“Having made up my mind to hope no more, I got rid of a great deal of that terror which unmanned me at first. I suppose it was despair that strung my nerves.
Edgar Allan Poe, A Descent Into The Maelstrom
Eighteen months before Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 turned up the heat during this summer of our discontent, another movie, The Quiet American, prepared America for the ugly truths about its endless capacity for atrocity that have tumbled out since the exposure of widespread sexual abuse and torture at Abu Ghriab prison in Iraq. Based on an actual event, witnessed by British author Graeme Greene, The Quiet American climaxes when CIA-employed terrorists detonate a car bomb in a public square in Saigon, killing dozens of innocent bystanders. The CIA, of course, blames the incident on the Communists, as part of a black propaganda campaign it is implementing on behalf of its puppet regime.
Sound familiar? It should. The CIA has conducted such plausibly deniable terrorist acts countless times, on a grand scale, though rarely with the acclaim afforded by Greene, and never with any accountability. For example, in 1967 the CIA created its notorious Phoenix Program in South Vietnam. Through 1975, Phoenix agents killed at least 25,000 suspected civilian leaders of the insurgency, and tortured and imprisoned hundreds of thousands more in a gulag of secret CIA interrogation centers. Under Phoenix, which is the model for Bush’s war on terror, due process was totally nonexistent; South Vietnamese civilians, whose names appeared on Phoenix blacklists, could be kidnapped, tortured, detained indefinitely without trial, or even murdered, simply on the word of an anonymous informer.
After Vietnam, the CIA aimed its terrorists at Central America and the Middle East, and in March 1985, CIA-employed terrorists detonated a car bomb below the apartment of a Shiite leader in Lebanon. The bomb killed some 80 people and injured an estimated 200. But, as with the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, and the current torture scandal in Iraq, not a single CIA officer was charged with any crime.
Now, amazingly, the CIA has installed Dr. Iyad Allawi, one of its foremost terrorists, as Iraq’s prime minister. According to published reports, Allawi began his career in the killing business in the 1960s on behalf of Saddam Hussein; but in 1978, he switched to the CIA after Hussein tried to kill him. In 1991 Allawi co-founded an anti-Saddam, CIA-front organization, the Iraqi National Accord (INA), which The New York Times described as “a terrorist organization,” and which, in the early 1990s, under CIA direction, sent agents into Baghdad to blow up government facilities, as well as movie theatres and school buses full of children.
Allawi was also a willing instrument of CIA black propaganda, and helped the CIA promote the Big Lie that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that could be launched against America in less than 45 minutes. This willingness to lie and murder is the main reason Allawi was selected to recruit the CIA friendly Iraqis who will run the country’s intelligence service, army, and police force. Inn other words, with his greedy syhcophant relatives and cronies, Allawi will run the CIA’s new, improved version of the Phoenix Program in Iraq, which translates into more bloodshed and oppression for the Iraqi people. The corporate media will not publicize it, but you can expect massive abuses by corrupt security officers, policemen, politicians, and racketeers, all of will extort innocent civilians as well as suspected terrorists.
As CIA officer Lucien Conein said about the Phoenix Program, “It was a very good blackmail scheme for the central government. `If you don’t do what I want, you’re VC.”‘
You can expect the same from the puppet regime in Iraq.
Here on the home front, Allawi’s appointment means more deceptions by the desperate Bush regime. Despite a promise that it would stop torturing suspects while the jury is out, the CIA continues to do what it does best: hire psychopaths like Allawi to commit all manner of atrocities in our name. Worse than that, Allawi’s apotheosis means that we will descend further into the moral maelstrom of covert operations, symbolized by Phoenix, whose mythology became so popular in the aftermath of 9/11, thanks to an endless barrage of CIA propaganda.
But our national willingness to accept conquest, mass murder, torture, censorship, lies and puppet regimes, has changed forever how we think about ourselves. And unless we re-invent ourselves soon, we will forever lose touch with the democratic ideals that once defined our national self-concept. At that point the Phoenix will have come home to roost and, like the “New Iraq” we have created in our image, we will find ourselves living in a military dictatorship, under martial law, governed by emergency decrees.
And don’t say it can’t happen here.
DOUGLAS VALENTINE is the author of The Hotel Tacloban, The Phoenix Program, and TDY. His fourth book, The Strength of the Wolf: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930-1968, is newly published by Verso. For information about Mr. Valentine, and his books and articles, please visit his web sites at www.DouglasValentine.com and http://members.authorsguild.net/valentine