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The Bad Guys We Once Thought Good


Central Intelligence Agency,
Langley Virginia
Office of Villains
Department of Wayward Clients and Unsavoury Friends Status Report: December 2003
To: George J. Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence

Below is the updated report you asked us to prepare with comments, in light of Saddam’s apprehension. With the exception of Warren Anderson, we have omitted US nationals (e.g. Kissinger) from the list.


Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), Nicolae Ceausescu (Romania), Mobutu Sese Seko (Congo/Zaire), Pol Pot (Cambodia), Heydar Aliyev (Azerbaijan)

Comment: Good friends before most became liabilities. Marcos–greatly admired by Paul Wolfowitz–died soon after we got him to Hawaii, while Ceausescu passed on more suddenly than we expected after many years of loyal service. Pol Pot hung on far too long but had the decency to keep out of sight until the end. Aliyev was much appreciated for bringing dynastic succession and a pro-Western oil policy to Central Asia.

In custody on trial or awaiting trial

Manuel Noriega (Panama), Slobodan Milosevic (fmr Yugoslavia–The Hague), Saddam Hussein (Iraq)

Comment: We managed to gloss over the revelation that Noriega was on the CIA payroll under GWB’s father before jailing him. Hopefully we can do the same to Saddam, though US and UK support for his WMD programs during the 1980s and 1990s could prove very embarrassing in court. Ditto for Chirac and the Russians. Big mistake taking him alive. Footage of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam in 1983 and not mentioning WMD looks bad, though networks can be trusted to show restraint despite the approaching 20th anniversary (esp Fox).

Faking illness to avoid trial

Augusto Pinochet (Chile), Soeharto (Indonesia)

Comment: Pinochet is senile and, thanks to the Brits, at little further legal risk. Soeharto has the worst human rights record of all and would be easy to nab from Jakarta, though opposition from admirers like Wolfowitz and friends in Canberra should be expected. Too much detail about our support for his 1965 massacres has already leaked out. Has enough knowledge and residual military support to buy immunity and a quiet suburban death on his own terms.

On the run

Osama bin Laden (Saudi Arabia)

Comment: Still unclear how much money and arms we actually gave him to fight the Sovs in Afghanistan. Now protected by Islamists in the Pakistan military and assorted Taliban. Will be difficult to apprehend without losing Musharraf in the process. Priority here is control of the Islamic bomb.


Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvallier (Haiti–in France), Jean-Bedel Bokassa (Central African Republic), Hector Gramajo (fmr defence minister, Guatemala–in Guatemala)

Comment: Hopefully forgotten (we are trying).

New Friends (undemocratic)

Pervez Musharraf (Pakistan), Islam Karimov (Uzbekistan), Saparmurat Niyazov (Turkmenistan), Teodoro Obiang (Equatorial Guinea), Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Algeria)

Comment: A measure of our new commitment to spreading democratic politics. Some have oil, one is Stalinist, all have corruption. None have democracy. Like old friends in the Gulf, they have been advised not to take GWB’s freedom and democracy speeches seriously.

Given sanctuary by US

Jose Guillermo Garcia (fmr head of El Salvador armed forces, 1980s–Florida), Cuban and Haitian exiles (Florida), South Vietnamese army officers (California)

Comment: We now believe there are more terrorists per square kilometre in Florida than any other place on earth–all with safe haven. Most are from the abattoir states of Central America under Reagan.

It’s a battle to keep them away from snooping journalists when they slip their agency minders. Just as well GWB’s dictum about countries that provide sanctuary to terrorists doesn’t apply to Miami.

Refusing to extradite

Emmanuel Constant (leader of paramilitary group FRAPH in Haiti who murdered thousands in the 1990s–in NYC)

Comment: Avoid comparison with the Taliban’s refusal to extradite Osama after 9/11. Haiti is unlikely to bomb the East Coast. Warren Anderson (chairman of Union Carbide, now Dow Chemical), responsible for the 1984 Bhopal gas leak in India that killed 16,000 people–Long Island, New York)

Comment: They are only Indians, after all. Even Delhi is reluctant to compensate the victims and 120,000 survivors. Unlikely to ever face charges of culpable homicide.


Ariel Sharon (Israel)

Comment: Long record of brutality, most notably in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Rebadged “man of peace” by GWB in the Orwellian sense. European travel may become difficult.

Turkish leaders

Comment: No longer so well disposed after they failed to help us out in Iraq. Army even refused Wolfowitz’s order to defy the government and back the invasion.

Remember not to call Turkey’s attacks on its Kurdish population “terrorism” because we supplied them with the means to do it. As with Colombia, our money officially goes to the guys in the white hats–or in this case–the white fezzes.

SCOTT BURCHILL lectures in international relations at Deakin University. This article originally appeared in The Age.


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