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The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence

by Vic­tor Mar­che­t­ti & John D. Marks
1974, Knopf
ISBN 0394482395
398 pages.

I had come to the con­clu­sion, as a mem­ber of the CIA, that many of our poli­cies and prac­tices were not in the best inter­ests of the Unit­ed States. but were in fact coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, and that if the Amer­i­can peo­ple were aware of this they would not tol­er­ate it.

I resigned from the CIA in 1969, at a time when we were deeply involved in Viet­nam. And how did we get into Viet­nam on a large scale? How did Pres­i­dent Lyn­don John­son get a blank check from Con­gress? It was through the Gulf of Tonkin inci­dent The Amer­i­can peo­ple were told by Pres­i­dent John­son that North Viet­namese motor tor­pe­do boats had come after two Amer­i­can destroy­ers on the night of August 4, 1964. This was con­firmed by the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty.

The fact of the mat­ter is that while tor­pe­do boats came out and looked at the U.S. destroy­ers, which were well out in inter­na­tion­al waters, they nev­er fired on them. They made threat­en­ing maneu­vers, they snarled a bit, but they nev­er fired. It was dark and get­ting dark­er. Our sailors thought they might have seen some­thing, but there were no hits, no reports of any­thing whizzing by.

That was the way it was report­ed back: a bit of a scrape, but no weapons fire and no attempt to fire. Our ships had not been in dan­ger. But with the help of the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty Pres­i­dent John­son took that report and announced that we had been attacked. He went to Con­gress and asked for and received his blank check, and Con­gress went along. Every­one knows the rest of the sto­ry: we got into Viet­nam up to our eye­balls.

Every pres­i­dent prizes secre­cy and fights for it. And so did Pres­i­dent Nixon, in my case. When I came to the con­clu­sion that the Amer­i­can peo­ple need­ed to know more about the CIA and what it was up to, I decid­ed to go to Capi­tol Hill and talk to the sen­a­tors on the intel­li­gence over­sight sub­com­mit­tee. I found out that Sen­a­tor John Sten­nis, at that time head of the sub­com­mit­tee, had­n’t con­duct­ed a meet­ing in over a year, so the oth­er sen­a­tors were com­plete­ly igno­rant as to what the CIA was doing. Sen­a­tors William Ful­bright and Stu­art Syming­ton would tell Sten­nis, “Let’s have a meet­ing,” but he was ignor­ing them. The oth­er sen­a­tors wrote Sten­nis a let­ter urg­ing him to at least hear what I had to say in a secret exec­u­tive ses­sion, but he con­tin­ued to ignore them. —Vic­tor Mar­che­t­ti

Avail­able from eBay and Powells.com. Learn more about Vic­tor Mar­che­t­ti.


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