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This book explores some of the details of how the United States got into the business of conducting Special Operations after World War II. The term "special operations" means "military services providing support to the clandestine activities of the United States Government." The term is a euphemism for overthrowing governments, sabotage, murder, contrived wars, espionage, torture and assassination. These and other similarly indefensible acts are all justified with equally euphemistic masks such as "in the interests of national security", "defending our way of life", "the American Way" "the promotion of democracy", and even, "national sovereignty".
The impersonal world of our 20th century has been marked by a reality increasingly cloaked in euphemism. Defined by Webster's as "the use of a word or phrase that is less expressive or direct but considered less distasteful, less offensive, . . . than another," euphemisms are an essential practice in a political system that places an exceptionally high value on expediency at the expense of moral behavior. They are employed for the benefit of a small group of people who attempt to keep the rest of the population in the dark about what is actually going on. Tragically, and with increasingly dangerous consequences to all life on earth, euphemism is used to achieve whatever goal or purpose is sought by means of subterfuge, omission and deception. The results of deliberately choosing to rename things to prevent their true nature from being correctly perceived is a primary area of focus in this book.
The term "Special Operations" is a euphemism for clandestine operations which are the peacetime equivalent of activities conducted by the United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. George Orwell clearly describes this corrupted double-talk of substitution in his 1946 essay, "Politics and the English Language":
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called "pacification". Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called "transfer of population" or "rectification of frontiers". People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called "elimination of unreliable elements". Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.
Living in such a euphemistic culture year in, year out, can produce an attitude of expediency towards life itself. We can become increasingly inured to the contradictions of such surreptitious living. However, when we do learn about the actual degree to which the culture as a whole is living in this secretive, indirect way, this can be a liberating experience which opens one up to previously unimagined possibilities for social renewal.
How did our present-day culture of euphemism became so pronounced? What were some of its more formative influences? L. Fletcher Prouty was there at the birth of this euphemistic era of American politics. An Air Force officer already with 14 years of active duty, Prouty was assigned to the Pentagon in 1955 to set up the new office of Special Operations. Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Thomas D. White told him,
We have no policy on this. This is new. You are going to be the `Focal Point' Officer, and given an office in which you will draw up this policy in conjunction with all of the air staff experts that are needed and in conjunction with the CIA.
General White went on to tell Prouty that the National Security Council had published Directive 5412 in 1954, which established how the United States government would perform and support covert operations.
It required that the Department of Defense provide the material support, the personnel support, the bases, the equipment for clandestine operations, whether they were run by the CIA or by the Defense Department or both. Whatever clandestine operation, we would provide the logistic support. This would require special techniques and special procedures to keep it secret, to pay the bills, and all that sort of thing -- handle people who were killed, and so on.
A primary component for such military support of clandestine activities was the creation of a system of Focal Point Offices run by a group of specialized military officers who would act as liaisons between their respective branches and the Central Intelligence Agency. Prouty was selected and assigned to create and head up the Focal Point Office within the U.S. Air Force.
Prouty proceeded to draw up the requested policy, spending more than six months writing the formal paper, "Military Support of the Clandestine Operations of the United States Government." It was approved by the Air Force, and he then worked to coordinate it with similar documents written by counterparts in the Army and Navy Focal Point Offices. The entire system was then approved by the Secretary of Defense.
Prouty worked very closely with Allen Dulles, appointed Director of Central Intelligence after President Eisenhower's inauguration in January of 1953. Prouty explains Dulles' intentions and expectations for how the Focal Point System would function:
As Mr. Dulles told me later, "I do not want various people from my agency going into the Pentagon and dealing with different people there and therefore exposing the activities of the CIA to a large number of people, because obviously such a ring would then proliferate to others and if they wanted submarines, they would have to bring in some navy people and if they wanted helicopters, they would have to talk to some army people." He said, "I want a focal point. I want an office that's cleared to do what we have to have done; an office that knows us very, very well and then an office that has access to a system in the Pentagon. But the system will not be aware of what initiated the request -- they'll think it came from the Secretary of Defense. They won't realize it came from the Director of Central Intelligence."
The Dulles philosophy was to control the focal point area. This then led to the creation of focal point offices everywhere. As I established this "Tab-6" organization, as we called it, in every major staff area within the Air Force (because that was my jurisdiction at the time), I would "clear" people -- another focal point, you might say a sub-focal point -- a person I could go to who had been given, ahead of time, the authority to do whatever it was that he was authorized to do. We stressed this was only for "authorized" business -- he would have to be sure he had orders, either from my office or directly up to the Chief of Staff, and that we knew what we were doing for CIA.
To perform all its authorized functions the network of Focal Point Offices expanded out beyond the confines of the Department of Defense to encompass many other Departments in the Executive Branch. The people placed in these positions were not only active duty military personnel -- they were also employees of the CIA. Prouty continues,
This leads to another step, of what you might call "breeding". We had to work with various agencies of the government, not just the Defense Department. We had to have contact points in the State Department, in the FAA, in the Customs Service, in the Treasury, in the FBI and all around through the government -- up in the White House. Gradually we wove a network of people who understood the symbols and the code names and the activities we were doing, and how we handled money which was the most important part. Then we began to assign people there who, those agencies thought, were from the Defense Department. But they actually were people that we put there from the CIA.
This led to the creation of a system of powerful individuals -- people whose jobs were quite dominant in some of these other agencies. Especially after they'd been there two or three years, because we put them in there by talking to the top man, the cabinet officer or the head of the agency. We would say, "This man is being placed here so that he can facilitate covert activities and so that he can retain the secrecy that's required and he will keep you informed at all times." Well, in the over-all U.S. bureaucracy, the top people tend to move from one job to another faster than anybody else, not the career people who are there for a life-time. So the man we had explained the "Focal Point" structure to, perhaps a year-and-a-half earlier, would be transferred or leave the government. But our trained and fully cleared "Focal Point" man was still there. So after one or two cycles of this, that agency might not even know that employee was our man and not actually theirs because they would have no record of his special assignment, of what his origins were. They would think he was just another one of their own employees.
As a result, he became extremely effective. Because if we wanted something done -- I remember a very sensitive operation that I needed some information on, and I needed it from the FBI. I didn't go to the FBI. I went to this guy that we had planted, and he got it twice as fast and in a much better form than I would have gotten it from the FBI, even though I was at that time working for the office of the Secretary of Defense. We had no trouble working with the FBI. This process was just to facilitate it and conceal the CIA role. These people became very, very adept.
Thus, with the passage of time, the true roles and purposes of these Focal Point personnel who had been placed in select positions outside the Department of Defense became more and more camouflaged and entrenched.
Along with the establishment of the Focal Point Network, the other key element in military support for clandestine government activities was the system of reimbursing secret, behind-the-scenes activities. Prouty emphasizes the significance of a 1949 paper written by then-Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson. This paper defined the basis by which money spent on behalf of the CIA's logistical needs would appear to be simply a cost paid for by the military branch from which the CIA was getting its materiel and support:
[Secretary Johnson] said that the Department of Defense would fully support the CIA in any of its approved covert operations, provided that the CIA would reimburse the Department of Defense for all `out-of-pocket' costs . . .
This philosophy of reimbursement is very important in covert operations because it keeps bills from appearing in public that would stir up questions about why this money was spent when it wasn't spent for the items in the budget. Thus when we created the Tab-6 system [the code name for the USAF Focal Point System] we worked this reimbursement system in throughout so that you never saw the spending of any money. The Air Force never spent any money on the CIA operations, technically. The money was immediately transferred through a comptroller's office arrangement up in the office of the Comptroller of the Secretary of Defense. And that expenditure was, actually, Agency money.
Within a few years, the Agency was able to point out to Congress that a lot of money was flowing in that channel because, effectively, they were paying for the utilization of very high-cost equipment: aircraft, submarines, even aircraft carriers in a few places. Very expensive things to operate on a reimbursable basis. So based on that, the agency began to get a much larger budget.
By definition clandestine operations must be deniable by the government conducting them. Military officers like Prouty, assigned the task of designing and implementing the actual process whereby the military would support clandestine operations of the U.S. government, employed a reimbursement system to make the money trail "disappear" and likewise be deniable. Creating a clandestine means to prevent public scrutiny "that would stir up questions about why this money was spent when it wasn't spent for the items in the budget" contradicts a constitutional guarantee provided by Article I, Section 9, Clause 7: "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time." Such contradiction was and is essential to conducting special operations.
From creating a clandestine Focal Point System throughout the Executive Branch, to a clandestine system of reimbursement, Fletcher Prouty describes how the United States government established a largely ad hoc system of euphemism and deception devoid of any public awareness or consent.
The shift towards reacting to intelligence inputs put in place worldwide is closely related to the creation of the Department of Defense. The National Security Act of 1947, crafted in Congress and signed into law by President Truman, created the Department of Defense (DOD), a new department in the Executive Branch. Previously there had been a Department of War and a Department of the Navy. The DOD was established with a single Secretary at its head and three equal and independent services: Army, Navy and Air Force. The National Security Act of 1947 also created the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency.
In his 1973 book, The Secret Team, Prouty provided a great deal of insight into the climate of the times after World War II when the National Security Act of 1947 was being written:
But certainly there can be no liberty if there is no action, because one is not free to act if frozen in the posture of defense, waiting to counteract the free action of his adversaries, real and imagined. For the greatest nation in the world suddenly to assume the role of a defensive power is a certain signal of some major change in national character. . . .
This national defense posture places even greater emphasis upon the role of intelligence. If any nation goes on the defensive, then by its very nature it must be -- it is forced to be -- totally dependent upon intelligence. If a man is adequately armed, and he is hiding behind a wall reasonably secure from his adversary, the one thing he needs most is information to tell him where his adversary is, what he is doing, whether he is armed, and even what his intentions are. In that unusual year, 1947, the great pressures upon Congress and the Administration somehow impressed upon the Government of this country the beginnings of a belief in reliance upon a major intelligence structure to be backed up by a powerful Department of Defense.
It takes a long time, as Darwin made very clear, for an evolutionary process to make itself known. For many years, this nation of veterans, and mothers and fathers of veterans, along with the sisters and brothers of veterans, has looked upon the post-1947 Army, Navy and Air Force, not as they were becoming, but as they had known them at first hand at Normandy and Iwo Jima, at the Battle of Midway and the undersea services, in the Eighth Air Force over Fortress Germany, and with the B-29s of the Twentieth Air Force flying back from a fire-ravaged Tokyo.
Thus it was that while the country was caught up in the great debate about "unification", about the new role of nuclear weapons and about anti-Communism, it failed to note that our military establishment was being diverted from an active role as an essential element of national planning to a response position of re-action to the inputs of intelligence. This was not evident during the remaining years of the forties. Its first indication became apparent at the time of the Korean War, and what was not prominently apparent in the more open and overt military establishment certainly was scarcely noticed in the early days of the CIA.
In our conversations Prouty amplified on this, noting what he and many other WWII career military officers felt was the enormous mistake made by shifting our country's military posture from offensive to defensive and as part of this, creating the Department of Defense.
The philosophy of the entire military structure of this country changed with this business of the Department of Defense. And coming as it did, right when we were the most powerful nation in the world, with an enormous army, navy and air force, and the nuclear weapon which nobody else had in that period -- to put all of that on the defense was an enormous oversight. Those of us who were close to all that felt it that way.
There was no way to say that the World War II armies of the United States were to go on the defense. That really destroyed the structure of the Army and a lot of people on active service felt that at that time. I say that because this business of the communists/anti-communists bit, and the idea of a Department of War or Department of Navy as against a Department of Defense -- another major shift -- was then joined by this new idea of a Central Intelligence Agency.
As Prouty notes, the shift to a defensive stance was accompanied by a requisite dependency upon a centralized intelligence structure. Section 403, part (d) of the National Security Act of 1947 defined the complete "Powers and duties" that would be conferred upon the Central Intelligence Agency:
For the purpose of coordinating the intelligence activities of the several Government departments and agencies in the interest of national security, it shall be the duty of the Agency, under the direction of the National Security Council --
(3) to correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to the national security, and provide for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence within the Government using where appropriate existing agencies and facilities: Provided, That the Agency shall have no police, subpoena, law-enforcement powers, or internal-security functions: Provided further, That the departments and other agencies of the Government shall continue to collect, evaluate, correlate, and disseminate departmental intelligence: And provided further, That the Director of Central Intelligence shall be responsible for protecting intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure;
(4) to perform, for the benefit of the existing intelligence agencies, such additional services of common concern as the National Security Council determines can be more efficiently accomplished centrally;
As Prouty has repeatedly emphasized, "To really understand the CIA, you have to remember that perhaps its best cover story is that it's an intelligence organization. It doesn't do much intelligence." The fact is, the CIA was never authorized or empowered to even collect or gather intelligence. By law it is defined to be nothing more nor less than a coordinating agency. Most reporters and journalists who write about the activities and duties of the CIA either are ignorant of this fact, or they are serving special interests. And by examining the defined power and duties -- which have not been changed since the Agency was created over 50 years ago -- we see that it is paragraph 5 that has been used to support the claim that the CIA is authorized by law to conduct special operations.
Among its other functions, the National Security Council (NSC) was set up as the sole oversight mechanism of the Central Intelligence Agency. The NSC contains four statutory members: the President, the Vice-President, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. The CIA's original duties were clearly specified: "to correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to the national security". But the original intent of this law, written and ratified during the calm before the storm of the Cold War and anti-communist sentiment beginning in the 1950s, was quite different from later interpretations. Regarding the National Security Act of 1947, Prouty explains,
[W]hen Congress wrote the language of this legislation for the CIA -- and I printed this literally in the [Secret Team] book so that anyone who wants to read it will see exactly what the law says -- it said that the CIA is created to coordinate the intelligence of the rest of the government. That was why it was created. With that as a primary duty of CIA, then the other little tasks and things they were supposed to do come forward and it is a clearer explanation -- in fact, it is the only explanation when it is put that way. There was not a single word, for example, in the law that said that the CIA should collect intelligence. There wasn't a single word in the law that said the CIA should get involved in covert operations, and this is the same law that exists today . . . We haven't changed it.
But gradually things changed, whether they were written into the law or not. . . . The people that first became members of this new CIA knew that their job was the coordination of intelligence. They had no doubt about that. The enormous move toward Cold War, anti-communism and all that -- all the buzz words that we've lived on for the last 30 or 40 years -- did not exist then, at least not strongly. It was coming over the horizon.
Prouty acknowledges that the U.S. Government did not confront the fact that there was no real legal basis and no approved structure for covert operations when it wrote the National Security Act.
There is no law, there is no structure, for covert operations. The Government didn't confront that in 1947 when they wrote the law. There has been no revision of the law to accommodate that. There have been decisions by the National Security Council which do assign covert operations, primarily to CIA but, on a time-to-time basis.
In fact, one of the strongest of these papers -- the designation was NSC 10/2 -- was in my files early in the business back in 1955. And I remember that on the side of the paper -- written in pencil and in his own hand, President Eisenhower had written that any time a decision had been made for the Defense Department to support the agency with arms, equipment, money, people, bases, etc., that the equipment was to be limited to that one time only and afterwards withdrawn. He did not want the CIA to create a capability that was on-going. He was very specific about it.
That was 1955. Those things change with the times. And they got more powerful and more powerful. And because of that kind of growth, you don't have the legal structure, you don't have the approved structure to deal with it. It's an ad hoc creation. Probably the strongest ad hoc creation in our government today.
In the early formulations for how special operations would be conducted and controlled, President Eisenhower was adamant that logistical support given to the CIA would be limited to a "one time only" basis, without "a capability that was on-going." And yet through such means as post-World War II nuclear war planning, where the CIA was allowed to take on the role of a "fourth-force" -- Army, Navy, Air Force and CIA -- to participate in post-nuclear strike functions behind enemy lines, Prouty explains how "the agency was able, despite President Eisenhower's warning, to create quite a well-equipped military force."
Right after World War II and on into the early fifties, we visualized that a war would begin with some attack . . . [that] would immediately elevate to the level of a nuclear exchange. It was planned that . . . we would try to preserve certain areas in the target countries . . . [and] have the CIA create certain network agent functions and groups of Special Forces people that we could immediately send in by paradrop. This was the original Special Forces function, not the contrived one that grew out of the Vietnam War.
With this in the war plan, it then becomes included in the basic military budget each year. And with the CIA considered as a fourth force -- Army, Navy, Air Force and CIA -- what the CIA needed for its war planning functions on behalf of the United States Government, the total Government, would then be treated as part of the military budget -- not the agency's budget. In the beginning, this amounted to trucks, aircraft, weapons, radios and everything else that they visualized their function would require right after what we used to call the "post-strike" function.
Time and time again during our interview -- and throughout The Secret Team -- Prouty described how the CIA, particularly with the nimble mind of Allen Dulles directing it, was always quick to seize any and all opportunities to expand its capability to conduct covert operations anywhere, anytime. Prouty continues,
The agency learned that this system worked in its favor. They had warehouses under their name, in the name of a military unit. . . . They'd have trucks and jeeps and guns and radios and ambulances and everything else the rest of the military had. So the agency was quick to see that if they visualized their post-strike function as bigger this year than it was last year, they'd have more things to put in the warehouse. Then, since NATO exercises are run every year to train in the war plan, they would have to have more and more equipment for the NATO exercises. They did a very good job of filling their warehouses and then in using this equipment, on "exercises", which really were covert operations.
So this was an area in this business of reimbursement we weren't able to keep up with. We knew it existed, we knew what they were doing, we supplied the equipment, and it was sort of an even exchange. We figured, `Well, we've told the agency they're to be the fourth force and they're going to do a job in wartime so we might as well let them use it and train themselves and everything else.'
More than anyone else, Allen Dulles imbued the CIA with his sense of how it should be organized and run. Prouty, who worked very closely with Allen Dulles for eight years, writes in the original edition's Acknowledgments, " . . . to Allen W. and John Foster Dulles, General Charles P. Cabell, General Graves B. Erskine, General Victor H. (Brute) Krulak for close personal relationships that shaped the course of these events." Prouty remarked at one point both that the CIA was primarily molded by Allen Dulles while at the same time stating unequivocally that according to the law, it is a coordinating -- not a covert operations -- agency.
The single primary character of the CIA is Mr. Dulles. There's no question about it, it was his agency. Nobody else has left any mark like his. But you need to see that background to understand what the passage of the National Security Act really meant in 1947. What it says in law is what creates many of these controversies about intelligence today. Because there still is no law that says that the CIA is an intelligence organization -- it says that it is a coordinating agency. There is no law that says it is a covert operations agency.
Prouty points out how Allen Dulles circumvented the watchdog role given to the NSC (to prevent the CIA from carrying out clandestine operations the NSC did not approve) by such moves as engineering the creation of the Special Group 5412/2 and by shifting NSC oversight from directing to approving plans. In a 1998 letter to me, Prouty again emphasized the pivotal nature of NSC 5412:
During the first ten years after World War II the policy makers of the great powers attempted to define the grand strategy of future warfare while at the same time prohibiting all warlike unit actions on the Vietnamese arena that might lead to the employment of nuclear weapons. As The Secret Team has described, a solution to this strategic stalemate that came about during the Eisenhower administration with the publication of the National Security Council directive #5412 of March 15, 1954, which has been known as "The Focal Point Office", and that function is controlled by the CIA.
Prouty also describes the extremely important committee established by President Truman (1948) to study the progress of the CIA's effectiveness. Allen Dulles and two other people who served on this produced the Dulles-Jackson-Correa Report at the end of that year which "recommended a move more into the clandestine operations area, and more into the traditional deep intelligence area than the law had visualized." After Dulles was appointed Director of Central Intelligence (1953), he was able to turn NSC oversight to his own designs:
The CIA had been kept rather quiet. It was coordinating intelligence, and it was doing very little in the covert activities field. He felt that should change, but he didn't have any lawful way to do it. So what he did was he would take a plan that they had made up because of some input from a foreign country or from one of his station chiefs around the world that was in response to some action. Then he would go to the National Security Council. They didn't direct him to go to X country and do something; they were approving something that he felt he ought to do in response to an action that some of his operators, some of his agents, had seen in a foreign country. That device enabled him to create activities that most of the time were reactions or responses.
So the NSC found itself not directing covert operations, but approving reactive covert operations. There's quite a bit of difference. When you're doing that with an organization like the CIA, under an ambitious leader like Allen Dulles, it's pretty hard to tell the difference because sometimes you can create a response by kicking somebody under the table and they pound you in the nose and then you point to your partner and say, `Look at that guy -- he just hit me!' But your partner didn't know that you kicked the other person from under the table.
Despite the extensive history of how the CIA successfully circumvented the original intent of the 1947 National Security Act, Prouty notes that there are safeguards built into the law that actually address the issue of the CIA conducting special operations that are not directed by the NSC:
[T]here is one part of the law that can take care of this, and this was one of the really beautiful things about that law. No matter what the CIA wants to do or tries to do or is funded to do, it has to have the money to operate. The critically important statement is "funded to do" -- because Congress permits the CIA to do an awful lot by pouring money into the CIA.
Citing the 1980s example of the Iran-Contra hearings, Prouty explains how the system of oversight and control of special operations is fundamentally out of control if the four statutory members of the NSC are, or claim they are, "out of the loop":
What we've been talking about emphasizes the very great importance of the National Security Council. If the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense can't handle the CIA, then nobody can. If they permit the funding from Congress or any other really covert work to put CIA into areas that they didn't approve, it's their fault and nobody else's. . . . And here we have the men who were members of the National Security Council -- Reagan, Bush, Weinberger and Schultz -- all walking off and saying, `We had nothing to do with it.' Now that, for the next era, is going to create enormous problems, even worse than it did for Reagan.
If Congress doesn't recognize what's happening, they had better do so pretty soon or else they're going to find covert operations going on that nobody knows anything about because what they are doing then is regularizing what I said in my book: that there exists a Secret Team that is out of control. And now by doing nothing they have regularized it. That's the danger. If they don't keep the National Security Council directing these organizations, they'll never get the genie back in the bottle.
Further, Prouty points out the critically important fact to recognize in understanding how this system actually works. The reality is that carrying out special operations includes capabilities not solely limited to the CIA but also includes people in positions throughout the government:
If you analyze the Bay of Pigs operation very carefully, you will see that its components were far beyond any capability of the Agency unless they had the very willing and active support of the rest of the government. And the rest of the government in a Secret Team mode, not in a regularly established air arm of the Air Force, nor a regularly established sea arm of the Navy, with Navy logistics. For instance, in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Navy logistics behind all that was enormous. People didn't realize it, but it took place. The same thing occurred with the Bay of Pigs -- the Navy was there. They weren't called upon, they shouldn't have been called upon, but they were there. Even the State Department was somewhat involved in the political side of this: Who would follow Castro? Who would be the chosen people to follow Castro? And there are large financial expenditures in such an operation.
These activities don't take place within the CIA alone. And it's important to see the CIA that way. The CIA is always merged with the rest of the government that's taking part in these actions. Because this was true over such a long period of time, there were people who were very familiar with and well-trained for these operations. Every time a covert activity came up, they were involved again. This is the Secret Team. They can carry out these activities.
. . . You can't say that the Bay of Pigs was 100% a CIA operation -- much of the government becomes involved -- any more than you can say the Vietnam war, from '45 to '65, was simply under the operational control of CIA. From '65 on the CIA was still there, more than ever, but the military moved in and the military took over. It became too big for the CIA.
Prouty believes that special operations are slated to become a thing of the past: "We reside in [a] global community now. That's the way things are. The idea that there are such things as covert operations is kind of an old-time deal, it's like going back to the horse and buggy."
But how soon will such "old-fashioned" ways actually give way to more truly democratic processes? When all people -- women, other races, aboriginals, the poor, the disenfranchised -- have a full voice in shaping how we shall live together on our planet, sharing its bounty equitably for the benefit of all, now and for future generations.
As W.H. Auden observed, "the world is divided not into the hypocritical and the sincere, but into the insane and the sane who know they pretend." It is a colossal understatement to say that it is "difficult" to live coherent lives in a society wracked by over 40 years of government-by-deception and government-by-stealth presented as a "normal" and "civilized". Before we can change, we must first understand the true nature of society. We must face the facts squarely: what really is going on? Only then, standing on the firm foundation of reality, can we take a bold step forward to creatively transform our society in a way which re-connects us with the fabric of all life.
In moving toward a more accurate and honest appraisal of current reality, we are much indebted to L. Fletcher Prouty who has shared so generously his experience in setting up on a world-wide scale "this business that we euphemistically call `special operations'." In this, Prouty was in the unique position of coordinating logistical support for all U.S. military branches in support of government clandestine activities -- Air Force (1955-1960), Office of the Secretary of Defense (1960-62), and Office the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1962-63).
From this vantage point Prouty states categorically, "there is no law, there is no structure, for covert operations." Yet today, more than 50 years after this clandestine system of political authority originated, we live in a society governed by laws which fail to acknowledge the reality of unaccountable (and unconscionable) government activities paid for by taxes levied against the unwitting public. There is no informed debate about these global covert operations. There is no discussion about their moral, ethical, or legal appropriateness. This ad hoc creation has not even been acknowledged by our elected officials who are sworn to represent our interests.
Buckminster Fuller called the CIA "Capitalism's Invisible Army". David Korten does a superlative job in his most recent book, The Post-Corporate World, Life After Capitalism of showing how capitalism, celebrated for its "victory over communism", is now in a position to achieve its "victory over democracy." Capitalism seduces people with the song of money. Korten enumerates many instances of how the song of money is literally killing our world and our selves; instead, we can choose to once more hear and join in the song of life, that melodic rhythm which includes and loves all sentient beings. The Post-Corporate World is required reading for all who are building a sustainable civilization that mimics the self-directing and self-organizing living economies in the holarchy of Earth's living systems.
The exciting part about being at this point of choosing between alienation and connection is that we have everything to gain when we relink with our souls and allow them to resonate with the song of life. As Loren Eisley put it so beautifully in his classic work The Immense Journey,
Sir Laurens van der Post writes in The Seed and the Sower, that we need to be "obedient to [our own] awareness and mak[ing the] collective situation individual." Widespread societal changes begin in the changed awareness of a few individuals.
Carl Jung, who demonstrated the existence of the collective unconscious, makes a similar point:
This alone makes history, here alone do the great transformations first take place, and the whole future, the whole history of the world, ultimately spring as a gigantic summation from these hidden sources in individuals.
In our most private and more subjective lives we are not only the passive witnesses of our age, and its sufferers, but also its makers. We are our own epoch.
L. Fletcher Prouty gives us important facts to consider in reshaping our understanding of our society as it has come to operate since World War II. Not as we were taught in school or would like to believe it works, but how society actually functions.
- Derived from the Greek euphemizein, "to use a good or auspicious word for an evil or inauspicious".
- See Chapter 1, Military Experiences, Part II, page 42.
- Also called "Team B", these were euphemisms for the Office of Special Operations.
- Chapter 2, Understanding the Secret Team: Part I, p.123.
- Ibid., pp.123-4.
- Chapter 2, Understanding the Secret Team: Part II, p.132.
- The Secret Team, The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World, 1973, Prentice Hall, pp.204-5,
- Chapter 2, Understanding the Secret Team: Part I, pp.92-3.
- The Secret Team, Appendix II
- Chapter 2, Understanding the Secret Team: Part I, pp.93-4.
- Chapter 2, Understanding the Secret Team: Part II, p.130.
- Ibid., p.136.
- Ibid., pp.136-7.
- Chapter 2, Understanding the Secret Team: Part I, p.99.
- Appendix C contains an excerpt from The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, Executive and Legislative Roles and Relationships, Part I, 1945-1961 describing NSC 5412, "National Security Council Directive on Covert Operations", approved by President Eisenhower on March 15, 1954. NSC 5412 "marked the official recognition and sanctioning of a much larger program of anti-Communist activities in Indochina and throughout the world," and includes some of the original formative language that defined "covert operations" in the way the U.S. would come to systemize the justification and process for conducting them.
- Personal correspondence, June 12, 1998.
- Chapter 2, Understanding the Secret Team: Part I, p.104.
- Ibid., p.109.
- Ibid., p.109.
- Chapter 2, Understanding the Secret Team: Part III, pp.186-7, 188.
- Ibid., p.190.
- Critical Path, p.103.
- For a review of the book, see:
- Laurens van der Post, The Seed and the Sower, 1963, p.155.
- Carl Jung, Collected Works, Vol X, The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man, 1934, Bolligen Series XX, 2nd Edition, 1970, para 315.