Surrealpolitik: The CIA as Organized Crime

Author: Doug Valentine

Atlanta: Clarity Press (2017)

Quick Summary

Shows how the corrupt system of surveillance, torture, and murder that was the Operation Phoenix pacification strategy was exported to other arenas, notably Latin America following the Vietnam War, and more recently Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as how its core features are also being implemented domestically, even by some of the same people, which bodes ill for the future of US democracy. It's well researched and properly angry, a great rant, based on Valentine's extensive interviews with Phoenix personnel -- itself an amazing story, how he got to do that -- marred only by a relative paucity of citations. He makes a lot of claims that I don't doubt, but that would be much more useful if backed up by references.


There are 9 quotes currently associated with this book.

CIA and military intelligence units now operate out of a global network of bases, as well as secret jails and detention sites operated by complicit secret police interrogators. Their strategic intelligence networks in any nation are protected by corrupt warlords and politicians, the "friendly civilians" who supply the "death squads" that are in fact their private militias, funded largely by drug smuggling and other criminal activities. CIA and military intelligence officials understand that much of the intelligence they rely upon is dubious at best, but they act on it anyway, as did Sid Towle's bosses Tom Ahern and John Vann in Vietnam, because big "body counts" impress their superiors.

As a result, anyone can be an insurgent on a death list. (page 98)
Tags: [Fascism, Terror]
What needs to be stressed is that thousands of Americans, including unelected political cadres like Wolfowitz, and scores of journalists with access to them like Zakaria, know that the CIA-owned Ministry of Interior operates more than a dozen secret prisons. They know what goes on in them, too. As one Iraqi general told the film-makers, "drilling, murder, torture -- the ugliest sorts of torture I've ever seen."

Likewise, the composition and operations of Special Police death squads, an American interviewee said, "were discussed openly, wherever it was, at staff meetings," and were "common knowledge across Baghdad."

Common knowledge never shared with the public.

It is a testament to the power of US "information warfare" that this policy of systematic war crimes comes as a surprise to the general public. Such is the power of National Security State insiders like David Corn and Michael Isikoff, who happily turned a policy of calculated war crimes into the "hubris" of a few sexy mad patriots whom the Establishment is glad to scandalise, but never prosecute.

Certainly people have to be reminded, and the young have to learn, that America's policy of war crimes for profit cannot exist without the complicity of the mainstream media, which shamelessly exploits our inclination to believe that our leaders behave morally. As George Orwell wrote in 1945, "The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."

Belligerent nationalism is understood in America as the essence of patriotism, and this veneration for militants is taught to all budding reporters at journalism schools, along with the sacred Code of Silence. Which is why, when insider Seymour Hersh reported that the CIA and Israel were training Special Forces assassination squads for deployment in Iraq based on the Phoenix program model, he described it in a bloodless manner that made it seem necessary and, at worst, a mistake.

But war crimes are not a mistake; they are a "repugnant" and thoroughly intentional form of modern American warfare. (page 149)
Tags: [Fascism, Propaganda, Terror, Myth, American Exceptionalism, Media, Gaslighting]
As part of this back-channel "counterterrorism network," Casey recruited Oliver North, a doe-eyed Marine lieutenant colonel assigned to the National Security Council (NSC). Whipple served as North's case officer in the monumental political misadventures North embarked upon.

Cut from the same fascist cloth as his ideological forefathers Hunt and Liddy, North formed a crisis management center along with REX 84, "a plan to suspend the Constitution in the event of a national crisis such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent, or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad." North's plan called for "the round-up and internment of large numbers of both domestic dissidents (some 26,000) and aliens (3,000-4,000), in camps such as the one in Oakdale, Louisiana."

Certain trusted members of Congress were witting (despite that august body's periodic protestations that the CIA operates as a "rogue elephant") and Senator Daniel Inouye cut off all debate about North's plan to suspend the Constitution when the subject was raised during the televised Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987. (page 166)
Tags: [Fascism]
Meanwhile, in February 1974, DEA Agent Anthony Triponi, a former captain in the army Special Forces and a Phoenix program veteran, was admitted to a hospital in New York "suffering from hypertension." DEA inspectors found Triponi in the psychiatric ward, distraught because he had broken his "cover" and now his "special code" would have to be changed.

Thinking he was insane, the DEA inspectors called former chief inspector Patrick Fuller in California, just to be sure. As it turned out, Triponi was an active member of Operation Twofold and everything he said was true! The incredulous DEA inspectors called the CIA and were stunned when they were told: "If you release the story, we will destroy you.: (page 196)
Tags: [Humor, Conspiracy, Madness, Paranoia]
The guerrilla war in the villages baffled the Americans, so the CIA started experimenting with a lot of political and psychological ways of fighting the insurgency in the villages. They called it "the other war." Pacification. The job fell to the CIA because it meant killing civilians not soldiers. The military isn't supposed to go into a village and kill everybody. They did it anyway, plenty of times, but it turned the people against the US and its puppets in the South Vietnamese government.

So the job of killing civilians was given to the CIA, which isn't hampered by any rules of engagement related to the laws of any country. There is nothing to stop the CIA's hired killers from going into the villages and snuffing and snatching Uncle Ho's cadres. The cadres are teachers, labourers, mailmen, farmers; but they're not soldiers. They provide support for the NVA and the guerrillas. They're the backbone of the insurgency.

The CIA realises it has to "eliminate" these people to win the war. It works through its assets in a country's judicial system to create administrative detention laws that allow Americans and their subsidiary counterterrorism teams to snatch the cadres from their homes at midnight, without charging these targeted cadres with having committed criminal offences. It builds secret interrogation centers where the cadres and their friends and family members can be tortured and turned into double agents. It creates a system that terrorises everyone, in order to create millions of informers. Once it finds out who the cadres are, the CIA sends out its death squads. The CIA calls them counterterrorism teams like the ones it uses today in Afghanistan and Iraq and other countries around the world. They creep into the cadres' homes in the middle of the night, drag them away to the interrogation centers, or slit their throats and kill their friends and their families for psychological reasons, and run away before anybody knows what happened.

In 1967 the CIA brings together all these methods of fighting the guerrilla war in the Phoenix program. Phoenix combines all these things plus a lot I haven't mentioned. It pulls together people from the army, navy, air force and Special Forces. It includes the Vietnamese secret services. It coordinates everybody that's involved in the war and brings every resource to bear on the political people i the villages, i an effort to wipe them off the face of the earth. That's what the Phoenix program is. The total number of people killed was between 25,000 and 40,000. (page 205-206)
Tags: [Fascism, Terror]
Phoenix was a program in Vietnam, a methodology, but it is also a concept based in a speculative philosophy of history in which self-made America is exceptional, and its will to power is determinant. Phoenix the program goes through organizational changes. Over the eight years it existed, pieces were put into it and taken out. The pieces were called different things; different labels were put on the jar up on the shelf. But it is also a method of thinking about and controlling perceptions of, and events in, the ever present spectacular moment, and as such as transferable and adaptable to any situation. (page 206)
Tags: [Fascism, American Exceptionalism]
People think this is something that started in Central America during Iran-Contra, but it started in China when the US backed Chiang Kai-shek in the 1920s. The only way that Chiang Kai-shek could finance his government was through the opium trade. There were laws restricting the opium trade, but the US turned a blind eye to Chiang's opium business because they didn't want the Communists taking over China. The United States has been engaged in an unstated policy since the 1920s of supporting its political allies by allowing the leadership to make fortunes dealing drugs. (page 210)
Tags: [Fascism, Conspiracy, Crime/Noir]
How times have changed. A decade after the Vietnam War ended, it was still possible to persuade voters that a former member of a covert torture and assassination program wasn't suitable to be a state's chief law enforcement officer. Since 9/11, it has become a badge of honor. (page 276)
Tags: [Fascism, Culture, American Exceptionalism, Gaslighting]
America is ostensibly a nation of laws, but our elected officials in Congress, the nation's premier law making body, have exempted CIA officers engaged in terrorism from federal laws aimed at terrorists. When CIA officers are revealed to be engaged in terrorism, as in Syria, the media does its job and follows the script. It never reveals the contradictions that permit state-sponsored terrorism.

The continued existence of this Big Lie is truly phenomenal, given the mass of available evidence exposing it. Yet it is applied systematically, without exception, as the essential feature of spectacular domination, with the desired effect: a majority of Americans not only believe it, they applaud it. They believe that CIA officers engage in terrorism to protect them. Convincing them of this is the greatest covert operation ever. (page 399)
Tags: [American Exceptionalism, Media]