JFK Was Right: The CIA Should Have Been Splintered Into A Thousand Pieces And Scattered To The Winds
After Kennedy took office, he was unaware that the CIA, in accord with an OK from President Eisenhower and working with the Belgians, had overseen the gruesome torture and brutal murder of the Congo's popular first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba. With Lumumba already dead a month and his body dissolved in sulphuric acid, Kennedy called for him to be reintegrated into the new nation's government. The CIA-- Allen Dulles, who JFK foolishly kept on as director-- hadn't told him that they had carried out Eisenhower 's orders to have him murdered as a commie dupe. According to Stephen Kinzer's book about Allen and John Foster Dulles, The Brothers, "Less than two years later, Allen casually admitted that he might have exaggerated the danger Lumumba posed to the West. A television interviewer, Eric Severeid, asked him if he had come to believe that any of his covert operations were unnecessary. He named just one. 'I think that we overrated the danger in, let's say, the Congo,' Allen said. 'It looked as though they were going to make a serious attempt at takeover in the Belgian Congo. Well, it didn't work out that way at all. Now maybe they intended to do it, but they didn't find the situation ripe and they beat a pretty hasty retreat.'" There was worse to come.
Eisenhower had also authorized the assassination of Fidel Castro. When that didn't work out, he authorized a half-assed invasion of Cuban that came to fruition right after Kennedy became president, the Bay of Pigs. As the clownish plot fell apart in the first minutes of the "invasion," the CIA and some elements of the military tried to get Kennedy to U.S. commit Air Force, Naval and Army resources. He thought they were all out of their minds and realized he had made a terrible mistake by keeping Dulles-- who was completely senile by then-- in office. Again, from The Brothers:
"Let me take two jets and shoot down this enemy aircraft," Burke pleaded.
"No," Kennedy replied. "I don't want to get the United States involved with this."
"Can I not send in an airstrike?"
"Can we send in a few planes?"
"No, because they could be identified as United States."
"Can we paint out their numbers?"
Grasping for options, Burke asked if Kennedy would authorize artillery attacks on Cuban forces from American destroyers. The answer was the same: "No."
Later that day Kennedy told an aide, "I probably made a mistake keeping Allen Dulles."
…More than one hundred of the invaders had died. Most of the rest were rounded up and imprisoned. For Castro it was a supreme, ecstatic triumph. Kennedy was staggered.
"How can I have been so stupid?" he wondered aloud.
Others were equally stunned. Criticism of the CIA, in both the press and Congress, rose to unprecedented intensity. Allen was not spared. The cover story in Time, headlined "The Cuba Disaster," questioned his very concept of intelligence.
…If Allen had not yet confronted the implications of the Bay of Pigs disaster, Kennedy had. In private he cursed "CIA bastards" for luring him into it, and wished he could "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds."
In a new memoir, Mr. Gates, a Republican holdover from the Bush administration who served for two years under Mr. Obama, praises the president as a rigorous thinker who frequently made decisions “opposed by his political advisers or that would be unpopular with his fellow Democrats.” But Mr. Gates says that by 2011, Mr. Obama began expressing his own criticism of the way his strategy in Afghanistan was playing out.
At a pivotal meeting in the situation room in March 2011, Mr. Gates said, Mr. Obama opened with a blast of frustration over his Afghan policy-- expressing doubts about Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander he had chosen, and questioning whether he could do business with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.“As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his,” Mr. Gates writes. “For him, it’s all about getting out.”
Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War is the first book describing those years written from inside the cabinet. Mr. Gates offers more than 600 pages of detailed history of his personal wars with Congress, the Pentagon bureaucracy and, in particular, Mr. Obama’s White House staff over the four and a half years he sought to salvage victory in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The “controlling nature” of the Obama White House and the national security staff “took micromanagement and operational meddling to a new level,” Mr. Gates writes.
Back in 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev took over as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the United States faced a really big dilemma. Gorbachev professed to be a reformer. Should the United States work with him to reduce nuclear weapons, ease the U.S.-Soviet proxy battles that were at that point directly responsible for a number of deadly conflicts around the world and, just maybe, try to end the Cold War? This wasn't just a major, difficult question: It would turn out to be one of the most important U.S. foreign policy decisions in decades.
President Ronald Reagan eventually came around to the idea that, yes, he could and should work with Gorbachev. He was persuaded by, among others, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who famously said that Gorbachev was a man the West could do business with.
But Reagan had to overcome the fierce opposition of a top CIA Kremlinologist and eventual CIA director named Robert M. Gates, who maintained for years that Gorbachev was no reformer, that he was not to be trusted and that Reagan would be walking into a Soviet ploy.
Quite simply, Gates was wrong, overruled by Reagan, and the world was better off for it.
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