Archives Deadly Deceits: Observations on the role of the CIA
Observations on the role of the CIA by Ralph McGehee

My oberservations about the CIA – particularly its flawed intelligence on Vietnam and Thailand as summarized from my book Deadly Deceits. To avoid the all caps problem I have converted the file to lower case – with some editing of case. R.McGehee

China

China, circa 71-74 U.S. Rapproachement with China and increased chinese Anti- sovietism caused problems for CIA China ops. CIA had long seen China As a principal adversary. As result of contradiction, China desk simply Ignored or suppressed intel that painted China in good light. Early 70's CIA obtained chinese document on long range policy re continents and short Range policy re individual countries. Report indicated China planned to act In way parallel to U.S. Goals. Amazingly, document not recommended for Dissemination. Our operational warriors realized that if they disseminated The report, it might stimulate some gvt leaders to question CIA’s Insistence that China be on the top of its operational target list. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 120-1

Counterinsurgency

Malaya, circa 55-59 As part of CI op against cpm british gathered intel By use of locked, steel mailbox placed in problem villages. People dropped Anonymous tips about commie activity which then analyzed. Mailbox method Was basis for more thorough CI ops in thailand. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 99

Thailand. CIA CI ops in thailand used blend of interrogation, intimidation, And pro-gvt propaganda. Thai offiCIAls would come into villages and speak Of commie threat. Thai officers would conduct individual interviews with All villagers, looking for signs of commie influences and asking for info On neighbors. CIA/thai forces would analyze responses and, based on Contradictions or suspicious info, conduct second battery of interrogation Hoping to get confessions from commies. Sometimes, psy-terror employed in Interviews. One instance, gun held to baby’s head in presence of mother. In Another assassination of a suspect’s father was feigned to prompt Confession. Thai CI op overall successful in stemming commie spread and Breaking up existing network. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 102-06

Thailand. Circa 63 CIA tried establish close ties with minority hill Tribes and lessen their vulnerability to commie subversion. Part of CI Program included training hill people in medicine and advanced agricultural Methods and providing them breeding stock. CIA also built landing strips Which facilitated military ops. Eventually, because of commie infiltration Near Laotian border, hill villages were shelled and napalmed by thais. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 76-80

Covert a

Southeast asia. Major CIA op was building army of hmong hill tribesmen to Fight communist pathet Lao. Apparently CIA could not convince Laotians to Fight so it relied on minority group with many activities co-ordinated by Thailand’s police aerial reconnaissance units. “As in Vietnam the CIA Refused to acknowledge the real nature of the communist pathet Lao. Through Paru and the hmong it developed an army loyal to the U.S. And dependent on The CIA. But without a commitment by the Laotians, the CIA’s private army Finally succumbed to the reality of the overwhelmingly superior pathet Lao Forces. The hmong who cooperated with the CIA are now a dying tribe. The War destroyed their young men. Remnants of their tribe now live an Impoverished, uncertain existence in refugee camps in thailand. McGehee, R.w. (1983). Deadly Deceits 169

Deception

Thailand, 65 CIA officer allegedly had vital agent infiltrator into thai Comm party who had organized splinter group dedicated to peaceful change. Case officer given medal of intel for this op. However when his safely Guarded files (restricted on basis of “need to know” policy) were opened, New case officer found op largely a bluff, cancelled the op, and dropped Agent. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 91

Thailand, 73 CIA sent a forged letter allegedly from cpt to prime Minister containing insulting offer of cease-fire in exchange for autonomy Of “liberated” areas.initially, letter had intended effect of inciting pm To condemn communists. However, journalist traced letter to CIA station in Sakorn nakorn creating barrage of anti-CIA editorials in press and Anti-U.S. Demonstrations. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 167-8

Intel f

Thailand, circa 65 CIA estimated 2,500-4,000 cpt in all of thailand. Ci Team led by mcgehee estimated by end of extensive intel op that there might Be that many cpt in sakorn nakorn province alone. Further intel initiates Indicated that extensive commie infiltration was probably taking place in 30 thai provinces, making offiCIAl estimate highly inaccurate. McGehee who Devised newer, more accurate estimates and who communicated intel on extent Of insurgency to colby was moved off thai ops in 67 McGehee was Punished for communicating intel that contradicted high level U.S. Gvt Vision of the conflict in southeast asia. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 108-15

Thailand, circa 65 CIA claimed only 2500-4000 communist insurgents in Thailand, mostly centered in northern hills. “CIA reporting insisted that The communists had no popular support and that they had to use terrorist Tactics to force peasants to cooperate with them.” reality was that Insurgency was much larger and that cpt was very successful in winning Peasant support. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 100

Thailand. To avoid reporting repressive U.S. Backed gvts, CIA prevents Officers from maintaining contact with general population. It sends Officers, most of whom do not know native language, on two year tours. In 30 years CIA never wrote intel report based on interview with farmer, Though thailand is 80% farmers. Language qualified officers who develop Contacts with working classes are branded as having “gone native” and are Soon dismissed from station. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 165-6

Vietnam. CIA and U.S. Intel community failed to appreCIAte size and nature Communist insurgency in Vietnam. 54 French intel estimated communists Controlled 90% rural Vietnam outside sect domains. Yet until 64 U.S. Intel only twice recorded guerrilla, militia, or other irregular forces in Estimates enemy. Even after communists announced existence nlf and Multi-million person structure, estimates failed include members of Farmers, women’s or youth orgs. Until 64 intel made no reference to Members of communist party in svn, the key element in the revolution. “These omissions reveal a lack of understanding of revolutionary Methods and forces.” mcgehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 137

Vietnam. CIA during Vietnam conflict never got one “clear cut high-ranking Viet cong agent.” CIA developed hundreds of “access agents” but many of Them were dropped for fabrication or lack of content. Colby in “honorable Men” insists that CIA gathered valuable intel from “brave” Vietnamese with High ranks in vc. Claim a sham mcgehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 156

Vietnam. CIA totally ignored four basic data banks about asian communism: French writings on Vietnamese revolution, state dept reports from China in 40s, works by U.S. Scholars and newspeople with access to chinese Communist material, and writings on revolution by mao, ho chi minh, lin Piao, and vo nguyen giap. Agency had 700 people devoted to studying nature And strength of vc but no one was assigned to read communist writings that Laid out what CIA wanted to know. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 186

Vietnam, circa 68 Intel collection on vc activity poorly organized. Hundreds of one or two sentence intel reports were brought to CIA center in Svn where they were filed in safe or thrown away. McGehee writes “collation And analysis never applied.” mcgehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 142

Vietnam. Colby in 68 Gave speech which illuminates CIA misunderstanding Of insurgency in svn. Colby insisted the national liberation front, nlf, Provisional gvt of svn, and liberation committees had made post-tet Appearances, failed to attract popular support, and comprised “phantom Political skeleton that the communists would use in any negotiation for a Peace treaty or a cease fire.” far from phantom structure, communists had Elaborate revolutionary network claiming, by outside estimates, 350,000-500,000 communist party members in addition to the military and Front groups. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 137-8

Vietnam. For chart showing nie, snie, and oci figures on vc size 55-64 See mcgehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 136. All figures incredibly Inaccurate

Intel op

Vietnam. “Projectile” op begun circa 68 To gather intel on nvn spy Network that had infiltrated high levels thieu gvt. Intel from first year Very sketchy. Eventually, CIA had evidence far-reaching infiltration and Convinced U.S. And Vietnamese offiCIAls to “roll-up” the net. 50 persons Arrested in all, with 41 eventually convicted. Spies included president Thieu’s speCIAl assistant for polit affairs and close personal friends. This successful op was bad news for policy makers, for it proved svn gvt Hopelessly penetrated by vc. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 150-6

Intel prod

CIA fabricated propaganda often comes back to CIA for organization and Analyses but is not recognized as such. Net result is that CIA and other U.S. Agencies take CIA lies as truth. Example found re China. CIA broadcast Reports from taiwan attributed to mainland that talked of thriving Resistance to cultural revolution. Broadcasts picked up by foreign Broadcast information service and included in daily booklets of Transcriptions from mainland. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 181

Intel-policy

Thailand, circa 65 CIA estimated 2,500-4,000 cpt in all of thailand. Ci Team led by mcgehee estimated by end of extensive intel op that there might Be that many cpt in sakorn nakorn province alone. Further intel indicated That extensive commie infiltration was probably taking place in 30 thai Provinces, making offiCIAl estimate highly inaccurate. McGehee who devised Newer, more accurate estimates and who communicated intel on extent of Insurgency to colby was moved off thai ops in 67 . McGehee was punished For communicating intel that contradicted high level U.S. Gvt vision of the Conflict in southeast asia. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 108-15

Vietnam, 68 mcgehee sent memorandum to Vietnam station chief That documented extent of thai insurgency and figures of vc strength (from Books by pike and conley) that contradicted CIA estimates. Memo was passed Around for week or two and returned with no comment. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 142

Vietnam, 74 CIA officers sent cruCIAl cables directly to langley Indicating svn gvt disintegrating. Tom polgar, station chief saigon, sent Priority cables ordering that reports not be disseminated. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 188

Law

Based on secrecy agreement agency may review all writings of current and Prior employees to make sure no classified info is revealed. CIA cited 397 Passages for deletion from original manuscript mcgehee’s “deadly Deceits.” Many deletions concerned info already in public domain. Agency made mcgehee Produce documentation, finally allowing classified info in public domain to Be put in book. For description legal battle to publish book see mcgehee, R.w. (1983). Deadly Deceits 196-203

CIA felt mcgehee’s treatment of agent handling too explicit and Deleted it as classified info from expose. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 35

CIA secrecy oath reads “i do solemnly swear that I will never divulge, Publish or reveal either by word, conduct or any other means such Classified info, intelligence or knowledge, except in the performance of my OffiCIAl duties and in accordance with the law of U.S., unless specifically Authorized in writing in each case by the dci.” technically, it is unlawful For officer to discuss most CIA business even with spouse. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 19

Minorities

Southeast asia. Major CIA op was building army of hmong hill tribesmen to Fight communist pathet Lao. Apparently CIA could not convince Laotians to Fight so it relied on minority group with many activities co-ordinated by Thailand’s police aerial reconnaissance units. “As in Vietnam the CIA Refused to acknowledge the real nature of the communist pathet Lao. Through Paru and the hmong it developed an army loyal to U.S. And dependent on the CIA. But without a commitment by the Laotians, the CIA’s private army Finally succumbed to the reality of the overwhelmingly superior pathet Lao Forces. The hmong who cooperated with the CIA are now a dying tribe. The War destroyed their young men. Remnants of their tribe now live an Impoverished, uncertain existence in refugee camps in thailand.” mcgehee, R.w. (1983). Deadly Deceits 169

Thailand, circa 63 CIA tried establish close ties with minority hill Tribes and lessen their vulnerability to commie subversion. Part of CI Program included training hill people in medicine and advanced agricultural Methods and providing them breeding stock. CIA also built landing strips Which facilitated military ops. Eventually, because of commie infiltration Near Laotian border, hill villages were shelled and napalmed by thais. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 76-80

Paramilitary

Thailand, circa 51-73 CIA created and supported police aerial Reconnaissance units to undertake clandestine ops in denied areas which Included support of hmong ops in Laos. “CIA used paru as an extension of Its own paramilitary officers and to conceal its own role.” mcgehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 169

Thailand. Landsdale misrepresented purpose of 4,500 man CIA-supported thai “Border patrol police.” 61 Memo says bpp is to prevent thailand from Being a safe haven for for viet minh guerrillas or chinese forces. Viet Minh had dissolved in late 50's and neither viet minh nor chinese operated On thai border. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 169-70

Personnel

After lengthy and elaborate screening which included lie detector test, CIA Told candidates at personnel pool that they indeed would be working for CIA And began month long orientation course. Course featured explanation of CIA Branches and “melodramatic, frightening movies on communism.” anti-commie Indoctrination culminated in rousing speech by CIA officer stationed europe Who indicated “the soviets attack our flag and our country. Stalin is Fighting to destroy all religion, our allies, and our way of life.” mcgehee Reflects “we and the nation would have been better served if the agency had Made us study the subject (communism) seriously rather than simply trying To indoctrinate us.” mcgehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 6-8

Case officers operating in foreign countries have insular existence. Because of secrecy demands, officer assoCIAtions narrow to other CIA Personnel and families. McGehee “wondered how we in the CIA could ever be Expected to understand what was happening in a foreign country when we Existed in such a rarefied world, cut off from those we were ostensibly There to help.” mcgehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 51-3

Eventually mcgehee placed on probation for voicing criticism over Southeast asian ops and conduct of his superiors. Negative comments were Added to his file and he was condemned to “langley’s siberia” doing boring Research in basement filing room. No one within east asian division wanted Him. While “in exile” mcgehee composed memo to colby (then exec director Comptroller of CIA) outlining CIA’s inaccurate and biased intel on Vietnam. New dci schlesinger issued directive ordering officers to report all Inappropriate or illegal behavior to him. Just prior to directive, CIA sent McGehee overseas so he could not report this negative info. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 178-9

In 64 McGehee was told by CIA desk chief of thai ops that if he wanted Another tour in thailand, he should not be too critical of station’s Reporting. As result of this attitude, officers who wanted to get ahead Gave most reports favorable ratings. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 81

In early 50's CIA drew many para-military officers from pool of National football league rejects. Others had prior training in Military. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 13

Part of CIA recruitment process for officers is personality/intel test. Agency bias is towards an “externalized, regulated, adaptive” individual. “According to this personality portrait, the CIA wants active, charming, Obedient people who can get things done in soCIAl world but have limited Perspective and understanding, who see things in black and white and don’t Like to think too much.” mcgehee insists that strengths and weaknesses of Agency begin with selection process. McGehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 6-7

Until recently, CIA has had strict policy of not using women as case Officers. “The policy was based on tradition, the perceived inability of Women to operate in foreign, male-oriented societies, and probably a strong Dose of pure, unadulterated sexism.” mcgehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 11

Quote

“The CIA is not now nor has ever been a central intel agency. It is the Covert action arm of the president’s foreign policy advisers. In that Capacity it overthrows or supports foreign gvts while reporting “Intelligence” justifying those activities. It shapes its intelligence, Even in such critical areas as soviet nuclear weapon capability, to support Presidential policy. Disinformation is a large part of its covert action Responsibility, and the american people are the primary target audience of Its lies.” mcgehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 192

Vietnam

Vietnam, mcgehee writes: “of course, when I arrived in saigon in 68 The Agency’s briefers did not discuss this deplorable history (of brutal CI Ops). They probably were not aware of it themselves. I certainly wasn’t. All I knew then was that our policy was based on `intelligence’ reports of The numbers of communists in Vietnam that had nothing to do with reality. Either they were the result of unbelievable incompetence or they were Deliberate lies created to dupe the american people. At the time I still Didn’t know which.” mcgehee, R.W. (1983). Deadly Deceits 141-2

Vietnam, rural buddhist population was particularly resentful of diem’s Unfair rule and contempt was exacerbated by police ops, aided by CIA, to Seek out those disloyal to diem. Bernard Fall in “last reflections on war” Observed: “on may 6, 1959, the diem regime passed law 10/59, which provided For a system of drumhead courts capable of handing out death sentences for Even trivial offenses. Thus all south Vietnaese opposition – whether Communist or not – had to become subversives, and did…`four out of five Became suspects and liable to be imprisoned if not executed.’” mcgehee, R.w. (1983). Deadly Deceits 134-5

 
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