Propaganda and Disinformation:
CIA Manufactures History
By Victor Marchetti
In the eyes of posterity it will inevitably seem that, in safeguarding our freedom, we destroyed it. The vast clandestine apparatus we built up to prove our enemies' resources and intentions only served in the end to confuse our own purposes; that practice of deceiving others for the good of the state led infallibly to our deceiving ourselves; and that vast army of clandestine personnel built up to execute these purposes were soon caught up in the web of their own sick fantasies, with disastrous consequences for them and us. - Malcom Muggeridge, May 1966
That, in a nutshell, sums up what the
has accomplished over the years through its various clandestine propaganda and
disinformation programs. It has unwittingly and, often, deliberately deceived
itself -- and the American taxpayer.
CIA is a master at
distorting history -- even creating its own version of history to suit its
institutional and operational purposes. It can do this largely because of two
great advantages it possesses. One is the excessively secret environment in
which it operates, and the other is that it is essentially a private instrument
of the presidency.
The real reason for the official secrecy, in most instances, is not to keep the opposition (the
euphemistic term for the enemy) from knowing what is going on; the enemy
usually does know. The basic reason for governmental secrecy is to keep you,
the American public, from knowing -- for you, too, are considered the
opposition, or enemy -- so that you cannot interfere. When the public does not
know what the government or the CIA is
doing, it cannot voice its approval or disapproval of their actions. In fact,
they can even lie to your about what they are doing or have done, and you will
not know it.
As for the second advantage, despite frequent suggestion that the
CIA is a rogue elephant, the truth
is that the agency functions at the direction of and in response to the office
of the president. All of its major clandestine operations are carried out with
the direct approval of or on direct orders from the White House. The CIA
is a secret tool of the president -- every president. And every president since
Truman has lied to the American people in order to protect the agency. When
lies have failed, it has been the duty of the CIA
to take the blame for the president, thus protecting him. This is known in the
business as "plausible denial."
CIA, functioning as a
secret instrument of the
government and the presidency, has long misused and abused history and
continues to do so. I first became concerned about this historical distortion
in 1957, when I was a young officer in the Clandestine Services of the U.S. CIA.
One night, after work, I was walking down
Avenue with a fellow officer, who previously had
been a reporter for United Press.
"How are they ever going to know," he asked.
"Who? How is 'who' ever going to know what?" I asked.
"How are the American people ever going to know what the truth is? How are they going to know what the truth is about what we are doing and have done over the years?" he said. "We operate in secrecy, we deal in deception and disinformation, and then we burn our files. How will the historians ever be able to learn the complete truth about what we've done in these various operations, these operations that have had such a major impact on so many important events in history?"
I couldn't answer him, then. And I can't answer him now. I don't know how the American people will ever really know the truth about the many things that the
CIA has been involved
in. Or how they will ever know the truth about the great historical events of
our times. The government is continually writing and rewriting history -- often
with the CIA's help -- to suit its own
purposes. Here is a current example.
Just last month in
there was a meeting, a very strange meeting. Former Secretary of Defense Robert
McNamara met with former Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko and a member of
the Cuban Politburo. These three men, along with lesser former officials of
their governments, has all been involved in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962,
and they had gathered in the Soviet capital to discuss what has really occurred
in that monumental crisis, which almost led to World War Moscow III.
Since I, too, had been personally involved in that crisis, I took some interest in the news reports coming out of Moscow concerning the doings of this rather odd gathering of former officials. Much to my surprise, I learned that Robert McNamara was saying that neither he nor the
intelligence community realized there actually had been some 40,000 Soviet
troops in U.S.
in the autumn of 1962. The former defense chief of the Kennedy administration
was also saying that he and the Cuba
government did not realize that the few dozen medium and intermediate range
missiles the Soviets had tried to sneak into U.S.
were actually armed with nuclear warheads and ready to be fired at targets in
the Cuba U.S.
Furthermore, he was claiming that the
did not understand that this huge military build-up by the Soviets had been
carried out to protect U.S.
and to prevent the Cuba
from attacking the island's Communist regime. He added, for good measure, that
he was surprised to learn from the talks in U.S.
that the Soviets and Cubans thought the Moscow
had plans to bring down the government of Fidel Castro through the use of
force. According to McNamara, the entire Cuban missile crisis was a dangerous
misunderstanding that came about because of the lack of communication among the
governments involved in the near catastrophe. U.S.
Well, when I heard what McNamara and the band were playing in
, I said to myself,
"Either McNamara is getting a little dotty in his old age and doesn't
remember what really happened during the Cuban missile crisis -- or there's
some other reason for this." Well, it soon became apparent that McNamara
was not senile. What, then, is the reason for these curious - and false -
"admissions" in Moscow ?
The reason is that the Moscow
and the United States Soviet Union have decided to become friends
again, and wants to
set the stage for rapprochement with Castro's Washington . Cuba
It has evidently been decided by the powers that be in the
to have a little meeting in U.S.
and tell the world that we were all mixed up about Moscow
and we didn't know what was going on there in 1962, because we weren't
communicating well with the Soviets at the time. Thus, the American people
would see how close to war we had come, how we should communicate more with the
Soviets, and how they weren't really very bad guys after all. For that matter
neither were Fidel and his gang. Therefore, it would follow that we should in a
few months from now get on with disarmament and whatever else is necessary to
bring about the new internationalism that is forming between east and west. At
the same time, we should begin rebuilding the bridge to Cuba ,
But to create the proper atmosphere for the coming rapprochement with
and, later, Moscow ,
it was necessary to scare the American public and the world into thinking that
the crisis of October 1962 was worse than it really was. To do that, McNamara,
Gromyko, et al. were playing a little game -- their own distorted brand of
historical revisionism. They were rewriting history to suit the present
purposes of their governments. Cuba
Now, I thought, what if I were a reporter. Would I be able to see through this little charade that was going on in
Probably not. I began studying the "knowledgeable" syndicated columnists.
They were writing things like, "... My God, we never did understand what
the Soviets were up to in Moscow .
Yes, we better do something about this." What McNamara and friends were
saying in Cuba was now becoming
fact. It's becoming fact that we, the Moscow
government, did not really know what was going on during the missile crisis.
That is a lie. U.S.
If there was ever a time when the
intelligence community and the United States Armed Forces really cooperated and
coordinated their efforts with each other, it was during the Cuban missile
crisis. The Cuban missile crisis is probably one of the few examples -- perhaps
the only one -- of when intelligence really worked the way it was supposed to
work in a crisis situation. United States
I was there at the time, and I was deeply involved in this historical event. A colleague and friend of mine, Tack, my assistant at the time, and I were the original "crate-ologists"-which was an arcane little intelligence art that we had developed. We had learned through a variety of tricks of the trade, and some of our own making, to be able to distinguish what was in certain crates on Soviet merchant ships as they went into
into Indonesia , Egypt ,
and other places. We could tell if a crate contained a Syria MIG-21,or
an IL-28, or a SAM-2 missile.
We did this in such an amateurish way that we dared not tell anyone our methods. While the National Photographic and
employed 1,200 people in its
office in downtown Interpretation
using state-of-the-art equipment to analyze aerial and satellite photography,
Tack and I would sit in our office, feet up on the desk, using a beat-up old
ruler to measure photos taken from Washington
submarines. I'd measure a crate on the deck of the Soviet freighter, say about
three quarters of an inch in the photograph. U.S.
"Tack, do you think they could fit a Mig-21 in there?" He'd thumb through an old Air Force manual and say, "Mig-21, fuselage length 25 feet." "Well?" "Take the tail off, and we can fit it in." "Okay, let's call it a Mig-21."
We were pretty good at this. We had other aids to identification of course. We were able to learn when the Soviets were preparing shipments and from which ports they were sailing. We knew which personnel were involved, and the ships' destinations. Thus we could alert the navy, which sometimes conducted over flights, sometimes tracked them with a submarine.
We had an attaché in
row out in the middle of the night with a Turk whom he'd hired, looking for
three things in a Soviet freighter: its deck cargo, how high it was riding in
the water, and its name. Istanbul
By these and other sensitive we were able to learn, in the summer of 1962, that the Soviets were carrying out an unprecedented arms build-up in
While some of the other agencies, namely the National Security Agency and the Defense
Intelligence Agency, didn’t agree with us, Cuba CIA
director John McCone was able to get President John Kennedy to authorize more
intelligence over flights. The over flights revealed that the Soviets were
We know exactly how many there were, where they were, and that they had not yet been armed, because the warheads hadn't arrived yet.
Thus McNamara is lying when he claims that the Soviet missiles in
were armed and ready for launch against the Cuba . On the contrary, we were watching
the ships which carried the warheads; American ships enforcing the blockade
which President Kennedy had ordered boarded a Romanian ship (which we knew
carried no arms), and the Russian ships bringing the nuclear warheads turned
around in mid-ocean and went home. United
It is also quite untrue that there were forty thousand Soviet troops in
We knew that there were only ten thousand of them, because we had developed a
simple but effective way of counting them. Cuba
The Soviets had sent their troops over on passenger liners to disguise the military buildup. Some genius back in
must have then said: "But these guys need to wear civilian clothes; let's
put sport shirts on them." But someone at the department store said: We've
only got two kinds." So half the troops wore one kind, half of them the
other. They weren't very hard to spot. Moscow
Then, too, Soviet soldiers are a lot like our own. As soon as the first group got established, the colonel sent them out to paint some rocks white and then paint the name of the unit, 44th Field Artillery Battalion or whatever, on the rocks. All we had to do was take a picture of it from one of our U-2s. So it was easy to establish a Soviet troop strength of far below 40,000. Thus, McNamara is agreeing to a second lie.
The big lie, however, is that the
to protect the Cubans. That was a secondary, or bonus, consideration. The
primary reason for the build-up was that the Soviets at the time were so far
behind us in nuclear strike capability that Khruschev figured he could make a
quantum leap by suddenly putting in 48 missiles that could strike every city in
Cuba except America . Seattle,
Nor did we come as close to war as many think, because Khruschev knew he was caught. His missiles weren't armed, and he hadn't the troops to protect them. Kennedy knew this, so he was able to say: "take them out." And Khruschev had to say yes.
I must admit that at the time I was a little concerned, and so was my buddy Tack. We were manning the war room around the clock, catching four hours of sleep and then going back on duty. My wife had the station wagon loaded with blankets and provisions, and Tack's wife was standing by on alert. If either of them got a phone call with a certain word in it, they were to take our children and drive to my home town in the anthracite region of northeastern
. We figured they'd
be safe there: if you've ever seen the coal region with its strip mines you
would think it had already been bombed and we were hoping the Soviets would
look at it that way too. Pennsylvania
Last month's conference in
is an example of how history is being rewritten. Any historian who relies on
what he reads in the newspapers, on the statements from McNamara and the
Russians and the Cubans will not be learning the truth. The Moscow CIA
has manufactured history in a number of ways over the years not only through
its propaganda and disinformation but through the cover stories it uses for
their operations, and the cover-ups when an operation falls through Then there
is "plausible deniability," which protects the president.
All these techniques have one thing in common, and depend on one thing: secrecy. Secrecy is maintained not to keep the opposition - the
euphemistic term for the enemy -- from knowing what's going on, because the
enemy usually does know. Secrecy exists to keep you, the American public, from
knowing what is going on, because in many ways you are the real enemy.
If the public were aware of what the
is doing, it might say: "We don't like what you're doing -- stop
it!," or You're not doing a good job -- stop it!" The public might
ask for an accounting for the money being spent and the risks being taken.
Thus secrecy is absolutely vital to the
Secrecy covers not only operations in progress, but continues after the
operations, particularly if the operations have been botched. Then they have to
be covered up with more lies, which the public, of course, can't recognize as
lies, allowing the CIA to tell the public
whatever it wishes.
Presidents love this. Every president, no matter what he has said before getting into office, has been delighted to learn that the
is his own private tool. The presidents have leapt at the opportunity to keep
Congress and the public in the dark about their employment of the agency.
This is what was at the basis of my book, The
and the Cult of Intelligence. I had come to the conclusion, as a member of the CIA,
that many of our policies and practices were not in the best interests of the . but were in fact counterproductive,
and that if the American people were aware of this they would not tolerate it. United
I resigned from the
in 1969, at a time when we were deeply involved in .
And how did we get into Vietnam
on a large scale? How did President Lyndon Johnson get a blank check from
Congress? It was through the Vietnam
incident The American people were told by President Johnson that North
Vietnamese motor torpedo boats had come after two American destroyers on the
night of Gulf of Tonkin August 4, 1964.
This was confirmed by the intelligence community.
The fact of the matter is that while torpedo boats came out and looked at the
destroyers, which were well out in international waters, they never fired on
them. They made threatening maneuvers, they snarled a bit, but they never
fired. It was dark and getting darker. Our sailors thought they might have seen
something, but there were no hits, no reports of anything whizzing by. U.S.
That was the way it was reported back: a bit of a scrape, but no weapons fire and no attempt to fire. Our ships had not been in danger. But with the help of the intelligence community President Johnson took that report and announced that we had been attacked. He went to Congress and asked for and received his blank check, and Congress went along. Everyone knows the rest of the story: we got into
up to our eyeballs. Vietnam
Every president prizes secrecy and fights for it. And so did President Nixon, in my case. When I came to the conclusion that the American people needed to know more about the
what it was up to, I decided to go to Capitol Hill and talk to the senators on
the intelligence oversight subcommittee. I found out that Senator John Stennis, at that time head of the subcommittee, hadn't
conducted a meeting in over a year, so the other senators were completely
ignorant as to what the CIA was doing.
Senators William Fulbright and Stuart Symington would tell Stennis, "Let's
have a meeting," but he was ignoring them. The other senators wrote
Stennis a letter urging him to at least hear what I had to say in a secret
executive session, but he continued to ignore them.
Then I would meet Fulbright - at the barber shop. He was afraid to meet me in his office. I would meet with Symington at his home. I would meet with senators at cocktail parties, as if by chance. But still they couldn't get Stennis to convene the intelligence subcommittee.
Senator Richard Schweiker of
told me he had learned more about the
workings of the intelligence community in one afternoon of conversation with me
than in six years of work on the intelligence subcommittee. That didn't
surprise me, because I, several years before, had done the budget for Pennsylvania CIA
director Richard Helms. It was feared that the Senate appropriations
subcommittee might have some hard questions about the growing cost of technical
espionage programs. Director Helms had evidently been through this before,
As Helms put it, he and the
head of science and technology, Albert (Bud) Wheelon, staged a "magic
lantern show" for the committee, complete with color slides and
demonstrations of the CIA's most advance spy
gadgets: a camera hidden in a tobacco pouch, a radio transmitter concealed in
some false teeth, a tape recorder in a cigarette case, and so on. One or two
hard questions were deflected by Senator Russell of Georgia, who chaired the
committee and was a strong supporter of the agency. There were, of course, no
slides or hi-tech hardware to exhibit the programs the CIA
wanted to conceal from Congress, and the budget sailed through the subcommittee
What I learned in my dealings with Congressmen, in the
after leaving, was that the men who wanted to change the situation didn't have
the power, while those who had the power didn't want any change.
With Congress a hopeless case, and the White House already in the know and well satisfied to let the
continue to operate in secrecy, I decided to talk to the press. I gave my first
interview to U.S. News and World Report, and that started the ball rolling.
Soon I was in touch with publishers in ,
talking about doing a book. New York
I soon got a telephone call from Admiral Rufus Taylor, who had been my boss in the agency, but by that time had retired. He told me to meet him at a motel in the
suburbs, across the Virginia Potomac from . My suspicions aroused by the remoteness
of the room from the office, I was greeted by Admiral Taylor, who had thoughtfully
brought along a large supply of liquor: a bottle of scotch, a bottle of
bourbon, a bottle of vodka, a bottle of gin ... "I couldn't remember what
you liked," he told me, "so I brought one of everything." Washington
I began to make noise: flushing the toilet, washing my hands, turning on the television. Admiral Taylor was right behind me, turning everything off. I kept making noise, jingling the ice in my glass and so on, until the admiral sat down. There was a table with a lamp on it between the admiral's chair and the one which he now told me to sit down on. He looked at me with a little twinkle in his eye: the lamp was bugged, of course.
We talked, and Admiral Taylor told me the
CIA was worried about what I might write in my
book. He proposed a deal: I was to give no more interviews, write no more
articles, and to stay away from Capitol Hill. I could write my book, and then
let him and other retired senior officers look it over, and they would advise
me and the agency. After that the CIA and I
could resolve our differences. I told him, "Fair enough." We had a
drink on it, and went out to dinner. That was our deal.
What I didn't know was that a few nights later John Erlichman and Richard Nixon would be sitting in the White House discussing my book. There is a tape of their discussion, "President Nixon, John Ehrlichman, 45 minutes, subject Victor Marchetti," which is still sealed: I can't get it. Ehrlichman told me through contacts that if I listened to the tape I would learn exactly what happened to me and why.
Whatever the details of their conversation were, the president of the
had decided I should not publish my book. I was to be the first writer in
American history to be served with an official censorship order served by a
court of the United States ,
because President Nixon did not want to be embarrassed, nor did he want the United States CIA
to be investigated and reformed: that would have hampered his ability to use it
for his own purposes. A few days later, on April 18, 1972, I received a federal injunction restraining
me from revealing any "intelligence information." After more than a
year of court battles, CIA and
the Cult of Intelligence was published. The courts allowed the CIA
to censor it in advance, and as a result the book appeared with more than a hundred
holes for CIA-ordered deletions. Later
editions show previously deleted words and lines, which the court ordered the CIA
to restore in boldface or italics. The book is therefore difficult to read,
indeed something of a curiosity piece. And of course all the information which
was ordered cut out ended up leaking to the public anyway.
All this was done to help the
suppress and distort history, and to enable presidents to do the same.
Presidents like Harry Truman, who claimed falsely that "I never had any
thought when I set up the CIA that it would
be injected into peacetime cloak-and-dagger operations," but who willingly
employed the agency to carry out clandestine espionage and covert intervention
in the affairs of other countries. Or Dwight Eisenhower, who denied that we
were attempting to overthrow Sukarno in Indonesia, when we were, and was
embarrassed when he tried to deny the CIA's
U-2 over flights and was shown up by Khruschev at Paris in 1960. John F.
Kennedy, as everyone knows by now, employed the CIA
in several attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. We used everyone from Mafia
hoods to Castro's mistress, Marita Lorenz (who was supposed to poison the
dictator with pills concealed in her cold cream -- the pills melted). I have no
doubt that if we could have killed Castro, the
would have gone in. U.S.
There was a fairly widespread belief that one reason Kennedy was assassinated was because he was going to get us out of
Don't you believe it He was the Vietnam CIA's kind
of president, rough, tough, and gung-ho. Under Kennedy we became involved in
in a serious way, not so much militarily as through covert action. It is a fact
that the Vietnam
engineered the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem, United States 's premier, and Ngo Dinh Nhu, his powerful
brother. A cable was sent out to the ambassador which said, "If Lou Conein
goofs up [Lucien Conein was a key South
operative in Saigon], it's his responsibility." So
when E. Howard Hunt faked these memos and cables when he was working for the
"plumbers" on behalf of President Nixon (and against the Democrats),
he knew what he was doing. That was his defense, that he wasn't really forging
or inventing anything. "Stuff like that really existed, but I couldn't
find it," he said. Of course Hunt couldn't find it by that time the
original documents were gone. But Hunt knew what he was doing.
President Nixon's obsession with secrecy led to the end of his presidency, of course. As indicated earlier, Nixon was determined to suppress my book. On several occasions after his resignation, Nixon has been asked what he meant when he said that the
would help him cover up the Watergate tapes, because "they owed him
one." He has responded, "I was talking about Marchetti," in
other words the efforts (still secret) to prevent The CIA
and the Cult of Intelligence from being published.
Another instance of the Nixon administrations' attempts to suppress history is the ongoing attempt to cover up the details of the administration's "tilt" toward
in its conflict with Pakistan
in the early 1970's. Although the basic facts soon emerged, Pulitzer
Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh's account of the affair in his
unflattering book on Henry Kissinger revealed that Morarji Desai, an important
Indian political leader who later became Prime Minister, was a India CIA
agent. Kissinger spurred Desai to sue Hersh, and the case is still dragging on
today, seven years later. I know what the truth is; Hersh knows as well, but as
a conscientious journalist refused to reveal his sources. Here historical truth
is caught between official secrecy and Hersh's loyalty to his informants;
nevertheless, I have a great deal of admiration for Hersh for his firm stand.
It is a fact that a good many foreign leaders, including those often seen as "neutral" or even hostile to the
, have been secretly on the United
payroll. For instance, when Jimmy Carter came into office, he claimed he was
going to reform the CIA. No sooner than was
he in the White House, they decided to test him: the news that 's
King Hussein had been paid by the Jordan CIA was
leaked. President Carter was outraged, because now it was his CIA.
His efforts to deny the relationship were defeated by Hussein's nonchalant
frankness. He told the press, "Yes, I took the money. I used it for my
intelligence service. And that's all I'm going to say on that subject."
There were a lot of other national leaders in Hussein's category. As I revealed for the first time in my book, Joseph Mobutu, a corporal in the Belgian forces in the
before its independence, went on the Congo CIA
payroll. That is why he rules
today. The Zaire CIA paid the late Jomo Kenyatta,
ruler of ,
fifty or a hundred thousand dollars a year, which he'd spend on drink and
women. Therefore we ended up paying Kenyatta twice as much, telling him:
"This is for you and this is for your party." Kenya
CIA has funded
individuals and movements across the political spectrum in . A prime example is Willy Brandt,
former chancellor of the West
who received much Federal Republic CIA support when he was
mayor of West Berlin. Axel Springer, the Christian
Democratic-minded press and publishing magnate, who pointed the finger at
Brandt for working with CIA, was also a CIA
asset, who used his publications to spread CIA
propaganda and disinformation. It was a case of the pot calling the kettle
black: I knew his case officer quite well.
This is the way the
CIA sees its mission, the job it was created
to do. The CIA is supposed to be involved with everyone,
not merely the Christian Democrats or the Social Democrats. The agency is
supposed to have its fingers in every pie, including the Communist one, so that
they can all be manipulated in whichever way the government desires. U.S.
An obvious area of disinformation and deception exists in our relationship with a nation often represented as our closest ally,
I have often been asked about the relationship between the Israel CIA
and its Israeli counterpart, the Mossad. The CIA
maintains some kind of liaison with virtually every foreign intelligence
agency, including the KGB. These relationships vary from case to case, but our
relationship with the Mossad was always a peculiar one.
When I was in the agency, the Mossad was generally not trusted. There was an unwritten rule that no Jews could work on Israeli or near Eastern matters; it was felt that they could not be totally objective. There was a split in the agency, however, and
was not included in the normal area division, the Near Eastern Division.
Instead it was handled as a special account in counterintelligence. The man who
handled that account, James Jesus Angleton, was extremely close to the
Israelis. I believe that through Angleton the Israelis learned a lot more than
they should have and exercised a lot more influence on our activities than they
should have. Israel
For his trouble, James Angleton, who died last year, was honored by the Israelis, in the way that the Israelis customarily honor their Gentile helpers. They decided to plant a whole forest for Angleton in the Judean hills, and they put up a handsome plaque in several languages, lionizing Angleton as a great friend of
on a nearby rock. Israel
Israeli's intelligence chiefs, past and present, attended the dedication ceremony. Later on, a television reporter of my acquaintance sought out Angleton's memorial during an assignment in
After some difficulty, he was able to locate it, but something seemed odd about
it. On closer inspection, Angleton's plaque turned out to be made, not of
bronze, but of cardboard. Nor was the setting particularly flattering to Israel 's
late benefactor: the trees and plaque were at the edge of a garbage dump. My
friend's British cameraman put it best "This guy sold out his country for
the bloody Israelis, and this is the way they pay him back!" Israel
CIA has distorted
history in other ways than by outright coverups and suppression of the truth.
One method was to produce its own books. For instance, one of its top agents in
the Soviet Union was Colonel Oleg Penkovsky. Penkovsky
was eventually captured and executed. But the CIA
was unwilling to let it go at that The agency decided to write a book, which it
published in 1965, called The Penkovsky Papers. This was purported to be
drawn from a diary that Penkovsky had kept, a diary in which Penkovsky revealed
numerous espionage coups calculated to embarrass the Soviets and build up the CIA.
Spies do not keep diaries, of course, and the Soviets were not likely to believe the exaggerated claims made for Penkovsky and the
in The Penkovsky Papers. Who was taken in? The American public, of course.
More than once people have come up to me after a lecture and shown me the book
as if it were gospel. I've told them, "I know the man who wrote it."
"You knew Penkovsky?" they invariably ask, and I tell them, "No,
I didn't know Penkovsky. But I know the man who wrote the book."
Not just ordinary citizens were taken in by the Penkovsky deception, either. Senator Milton Young of North Dakota, who served on the
oversight subcommittee, said in a 1971 Senate debate on cutting the intelligence
budget: And if you want to read something very interesting and authoritative
where intelligence is concerned, read The Penkovsky Papers ... this is a
very interesting story, on why the intelligence we had in Cuba was so important
to us, and on what the Russians were thinking and just how far they would go.
Perhaps the most startling example of the ClA's manipulation of the publishing world is the case of Khrushchev Remembers. Khrushchev is still widely believed to have been the author. He is supposed to have dashed it off one summer and then said to himself, "Where will I get this published? Ah! Time-Life!" The tapes reached Time-Life, we all read it, and we told ourselves, "Isn't that interesting."
A little thought should be sufficient to dispel the notion that the KGB would allow Khrushchev to sit in his dacha dictating tape after tape with no interference. He certainly dictated tapes, but the tapes were censored and edited by the KGB, and then a deal was struck between the U.S. and the USSR, after it was decided, at the highest level, that such a book would be mutually beneficial. Brezhnev could use against some of the resistance he was encountering from Stalinist hardliners, and Nixon could use it to increase support for detente.
CIA and the KGB
cooperated in carrying out the operation. The tapes were given to
the Time bureau in .
Strobe Talbot, who appears on television frequently today and
is Time's bureau chief in Moscow ,
brought the tapes back with him. I was present in an apartment in which he hid
them for a couple of days. The tapes were then translated and a manuscript
developed. During this period Time refused to let people who had
known Khrushchev personally, including White House staff members, listen to the
Knowledgeable people began to tell me. "I don't believe this." "There's something mighty fishy here." When they read what Khrushchev was supposedly saying, they were even more incredulous. But the book came out, Khrushchev Remembers, accompanied by a massive publicity campaign. It was a great propaganda accomplishment for the
and the KGB.
I touched on Khrushchev Remembers in my book. I did not go into any great detail, merely devoting several tentative paragraphs to the affair. Just before my book was published Time was considering doing a two-page spread on me until they learned of my expressed reservations on the trustworthiness of Khrushchev Remembers. I began to get phone calls from Talbot and Jerry Schaechter, then Time's bureau chief in
telling me I should take out the offending passages. Washington
I had written, correctly, that before publication Strobe Talbot had taken the bound transcripts of the Khruschhev tapes back to Moscow, via Helsinki, so that the KGB could make one final review of them. I told Schaechter and Talbot that if they came to me, looked me in the eye, and told me I had the facts wrong, I would take out the section on Khruschhev Remembers. Neither of them ever came by, the paragraphs stayed in my book, and in any event Time went ahead with the two-page spread anyway.
As I pointed out in the preface to The
and the Cult of Intelligence in 1974, democratic governments fighting
totalitarian enemies run the risk of imitating their methods and thereby
By suppressing historical fact, and by manufacturing historical fiction, the
CIA, with its
obsessive secrecy and its vast resources, has posed a particular threat to the
right of Americans to be informed for the present and future by an objective
knowledge of the past.
As long as the
continues to manipulate history, historians of its activities must be
Revisionist if we are to know the truth about the agency's activities, past and
From The Journal of Historical Review, Fall 1989 (Vol. 9, No. 3), pages 305- 320.
This paper was first presented at the Ninth IHR Conference, Feb. 1989, in
This paper was first presented at the Ninth IHR Conference, Feb. 1989, in
About the Author
For 14 years Victor Marchetti worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, where he rose to be executive assistant to the deputy director.
He joined the
1955, working as a specialist on the .
He soon became a leading USSR CIA expert on Third
World aid, with a focus on
military supplies to USSR .
In 1966 Marchetti was promoted to the office of special assistant to the Chief
of Planning, Programming, and Budgeting. Cuba
After becoming disillusioned with the
policies and practices, Marchetti resigned in 1969. He wrote a novel, The
Rope Dancer (1971 that was critical of the CIA.
He is also the author – with John D. Marks – of the book The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, published
in 1973. Before its publication, the CIA
demanded the removal of 399 passages, but Marchetti stood firm and only 168
passages were censored. This was the first book the
federal government ever tried to censor before publication through court
action. The publisher (Alfred A. Knopf) chose to issue it with blanks for
censored passages and with boldface type for passages that were challenged but
later uncensored. US