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Classified Documents: Article in New York Times

John Simkin

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You can find a practical example of the reclassifying of CIA documents released by the actions of Bill Clinton here:


In 1992 the Central Intelligence Agency hired the young historian Nick Cullather to write a history (classified “secret” and for internal distribution only) of Operation PBSUCCESS, which overthrew the lawful government of Guatemala in 1954. Given full access to the Agency’s archives he produced an insider’s account, intended as a training manual for covert operators, detailing how the CIA chose targets, planned strategies, developed black propaganda campaigns, organized the mechanics of waging a secret war, etc.

In 1995 President Bill Clinton ordered the declassification of CIA documents that no longer protected American security. As a result, Cullather’s account of this CIA operation was declassified in 1997.

Cullather was aware that it was possible that under a more secretive president, this document might be declassified. This has of course happened under George Bush. Therefore Cullather decided to write an account of the events in Guatemala based on the CIA sources he discovered when he was doing his research. The book, Secret History: The CIA Classified Account of Operations in Guatemala 1952-1954, was published in 1999.

The book makes clear why Republican presidents have worked very closely with the CIA to prevent documents being released.

In the 1930s Sam Zemurray aligned United Fruit Company closely with the government of President Jorge Ubico. The company received import duty and real estate tax exemptions from Ubico. He also gave them hundreds of square miles of land. United Fruit controlled more land than any other individual or group. It also owned the railway, the electric utilities, telegraph, and the country's only port at Puerto Barrios on the Atlantic coast.

In June, 1944, teachers in Guatemala went on strike for higher pay. Other professions joined the teachers in street demonstrations. Ubico sent in the army and over 200 protesters were killed. This included Maria Chinchilla, the leader of the teachers' union movement.

A few days later, a group of over 300 teachers, lawyers, doctors, and businessmen handed a petition to Ubico in which demanded that the demonstrators' actions were legitimate. At this stage, the United States withdrew its support of Ubico. General Francisco Ponce became Guatemala's new dictator. In an attempt to gain public support, Ponce announced democratic elections. He selected himself as presidential candidate, while the opposition picked the former teacher, Juan Jose Arevalo, who was living in exile in Argentina. Afraid that he would lose the election, Ponce ordered Arevalo's arrest as soon as he arrived back in Guatemala.

Appalled by the actions of Ponce, Jacobo Arbenz and a fellow junior officer, Major Francisco Arana, organized a military rebellion. They were quickly joined by other officers and attacked the pro-Ponce military and police forces. Ponce and Ubico were forced to abandon the country and Arbenz and Arana created a provisional junta with businessman, Jorge Toriello, and promised free and democratic elections.

Arbenz and Arana introduced a new constitution. Censorship was brought to an end, men and women were declared equal before the law, racial discrimination was declared a crime, higher education was free of governmental control, private monopolies were banned, workers were assured a forty-hour week, payment in coupons was forbidden, and labour unions were legalized. Juan Jose Arevalo won the first elections and attempted to begin an age of reforms in Guatemala. Arevalo described himself as a "spiritual socialist". He implemented sweeping reforms by passing new laws that gave workers the right to form unions. This included the 40,000 Guatemalans who worked for the United Fruit Company.

Sam Zemurray feared that Arevalo would also nationalize the land owned by United Fruit in Guatemala. He asked the political lobbyist Tommy Corcoran to express his fears to senior political figures in Washington. Corcoran began talks with key people in the government agencies and departments that shaped U.S. policy in Central America. He argued that the U.S. should use United Fruit as an American beachhead against communism in the region.

The problem was that Arevalo was not a communist. It therefore became the policy of United Fruit and the CIA to convince the Harry Truman administration that Arevalo was a communist. It was not too difficult for Zemurray and the CIA to recruit Arana in their attempt to overthrow Arevalo. Unlike Arbenz, Arana did not support Arevalo’s social reforms.

In July, 1949, with the backing of United Fruit and the CIA, Arana presented Arevalo “with an ultimatum demanding that he surrender power to the Army and fill out the remainder of his term as a civilian figure-head for a military regime.”

Arevalo realized that Guatemala’s experiment with democracy was in grave danger. He therefore appealed to Arbenz, who was still committed to the democratic system, to defend his democratically elected government. Arbenz supplied Arevalo with the names of young officers who he knew to be loyal to the idea of democracy. Arevalo then ordered these officers to arrest Arana. Caught crossing a bridge, Arana resisted arrest, and during the resulting gunfight, Arana and several others were killed.

Arevalo then made the mistake of not telling the country about the attempted coup. Instead he claimed that Arana had been killed by unknown assassins. The CIA immediately spread the rumour that Arevalo and Arbenz had used communists to kill Arana. This resulted in another coup attempt by army officers loyal to Arana and the United Fruit Company. However, some members of the armed forces remained loyal to Arevalo. So did the trade unions that had originally overthrown the dictatorship of Jorge Ubico. Arana’s supporters were defeated and Arevalo remained in power. Once again Arbenz had become a national hero and his election to the presidency was ensured.

In the spring of 1950, Corcoran went to see Thomas C. Mann, the director of the State Department’s Office of Inter-American Affairs. Corcoran asked Mann if he had any plans to prevent Arbenz from being elected. Mann replied: “That is for the people of that country to decide.” Unhappy with this reply, Corcoran paid a call on the Allen Dulles, the deputy director of the CIA. Dulles, who represented United Fruit in the 1930s, was far more interested in Corcoran’s ideas. “During their meeting Dulles explained to Corcoran that while the CIA was sympathetic to United Fruit, he could not authorize any assistance without the support of the State Department. Dulles assured Corcoran, however, that whoever was elected as the next president of Guatemala would not be allowed to nationalize the operations of United Fruit.”

In 1951 Arbenz defeated Manuel Ygidoras to become Guatemala's new president. Arbenz had obtained 65% of the votes cast.

Harry Truman refused permission for the CIA to overthrow a democratically elected president. However, Dwight Eisenhower, did not share Truman’s views on democracy and soon after he was elected in November, 1952, he gave permission for the CIA to overthrow Arbenz. It was not the only time in his eight year reign that he used the CIA to smear political leaders as “communists”. It was a tactic that was also used by Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush senior. Maybe this is what this is really about. Bush and Cheney are covering-up for former Republican administrations.

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Well, John, so Arbenz was democratically elected?

Geez, did you READ what you posted? Here is what you wrote:

Arbenz supplied Arevalo with the names of young officers who he knew to be loyal to the idea of democracy. Arevalo then ordered these officers to arrest Arana.

So officers designated by Arbenz shot to death Arana and justified it by saying that Arana was resisting arrest. How convenient for Arbenz that the officers he designated just happened to kill his main opponent.

Seems like you've got your blinders on to anything done by the left.

Can you imagine if George Bush had ordered the arrest of John Kerry and in the process Kerry was shot to death and the Bush operatives claimed he was "resisting arrest". Would that at least not cause you to raise an eyebrow and question the accuracy of the official story? I mean if you believe that Arana was actually resisting arrest, you might as well believe the WC report. That claim smells worse than a barrel of rotten fish.

So what we have is that officers loyal to Arbenz and designated by him shot and killed Arbenz's principal political opponent, thereby ensuring Arbenz's "democratic" victory.

Ain't what I call democracy, John.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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Well, John, so Arbenz was democratically elected?

Geez, did you READ what you posted? Here is what you wrote:

Arbenz supplied Arevalo with the names of young officers who he knew to be loyal to the idea of democracy. Arevalo then ordered these officers to arrest Arana.

So officers designated by Arbenz shot to death Arana and justified it by saying that Arana was resisting arrest. How convenient for Arbenz that the officers he designated just happened to kill his main opponent.

Seems like you've got your blinders on to anything done by the left.

Can you imagine if George Bush had ordered the arrest of John Kerry and in the process Kerry was shot to death and the Bush operatives claimed he was "resisting arrest". Would that at least not cause you to raise an eyebrow and question the accuracy of the official story? I mean if you believe that Arana was actually resisting arrest, you might as well believe the WC report. That claim smells worse than a barrel of rotten fish.

So what we have is that officers loyal to Arbenz and designated by him shot and killed Arbenz's principal political opponent, thereby ensuring Arbenz's "democratic" victory.

Ain't what I call democracy, John.

It was Arevalo, not Arbenz who ordered Arana’s arrest. This was as a result of Arana presenting Arevalo “with an ultimatum demanding that he surrender power to the Army and fill out the remainder of his term as a civilian figure-head for a military regime.”

Arevalo was the democratically elected president of Guatemala. Did he not have some sort of right to try and protect his government by ordering the arrest of Arana?

Sure George Bush would have had the right to order the arrest John Kerry if he had attempted a military coup before the last election. But as far as I can tell he did not do that. So your point is irrelevant.

You say the death of Arana provides evidence that Guatemala was not a “democracy”. Was Eisenhower’s ordering the CIA to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala anything to do with democracy? When I asked you this question before on the Arbenz thread you said that Eisenhower was in the right because he was protecting the interests of the United States. That says everything we need to know about your views on democracy.

I wonder if there are any other members of the Forum willing to defend Gratz's views on democracy?

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John, lest you forget we were in a Cold War with the Communists and the Communists made no secret of their attempting to subvert democratic governments throughout the world.

Arbenz if not a Communist himself was at least friendly with the Communists. His election was made possible by the convenient violent death of his primary anti-Communist opponent.

So the United States effected the removal of a man who came into office on the shed blood of his opponent, blood shed by men named by Arbenz.

We won the cold war. What more can I say?

You have yet to respond to my point why playing Monday morning quarterback to events of fifty or sixty years ago accomplishes anything but distracts us from focusing on the Kennedy assassination.

Sure you are not a "distraction agent"? Sorry.

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Note also that John seems more interested in my defense of the coup in Guatemala (old history if ever there was) than if Michael David Collins supports the anti-semetic views of his mentor and (sometime?) employer Willis Carto and the racist views of Dan Black, whose organization sponsored or at least heavily promoted the conference at which Piper was a featured speaker.

Some might find that a strange priority. I suspect that some might very well include Mr. Walker (who I greatly respect for his frank and colorful condemnation of Piper.

I would also point out that since Piper is the primary proponent of the theory that the Mossad killed Kennedy a determination of just how intense is his anti-semitism has a direct bearing on how members should evaluate his thesis. Thus Piper's views on the Jews are germane to the JFK case whereas what I think about the CIA coup in Guatamela has absolutely nothing to do with the focus of our investigation.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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John wrote:

Sure George Bush would have had the right to order the arrest John Kerry if he had attempted a military coup before the last election. But as far as I can tell he did not do that. So your point is irrelevant.

Well, John, you are indeed correct that John Kerry did not try to organize a coup and George Bush did not have him assassinated. It is always a delight when you have your facts straight!

My simple point (which you apparently missed) is that I am suspicious of a claim that a political opponent is killed while "resisting arrest". Do you even know if Arana was armed? What did he do to "resist arrest" before the officers designated by Arbenz shot him dead? Do you know? Why don't you try to research the facts surrounding the death of Arana so we can correctly conclude whether Arbenz was a democrat or a cold-blooded assassin?

Edited by Tim Gratz
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John, how do you respond to this?

Arbenz was elected president of Guatemala in March 1951 with communist backing. A death squad eliminated HIS strongest rival for the office, a popular anti-communist, Francisco Javier Arana. Ronald Schneider, in his book, Communism in Guatemala, 1944-54, says that Arana would probably have won the election had he not been murdered. Arana's driver, who survived the attack, identified one of the killers as Capt. Alfonso Martinez Estevez, a close friend of Arbenz, who subsequently became Arbenz's private secretary and was later made chief of the National Agrarian Department. The car used by the killers belonged to Mrs. Arbenz and was driven by her chauffeur. Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer, in their book, Bitter Fruit, noted reports that Arbenz himself watched the murder from a distance through binoculars.

Do you have any basis for disputing that the driver of Arana correctly identified Martinez Estevez as one of the killers?

Do you have any basis for disputing that the car used by the killer was owned by Mrs. Arbenz?

What would any Forum member conclude if JFK's killer(s) had made his or their escape in a car owned by Lady Bird Johnson?

Whether or not Abenz was an outright communist, he certainly was more like a murderous assassin than a peace, love and freedom democrat. On that we OUGHT to be able to agree!

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Tim, you really have your blinders on sometimes. Was Arana even a confirmed candidate for the next election? According to numerous reports, including the one cited by John (which apparently was written by a CIA historian) Arana was trying to use the military to overthrow Arevalo.

It's incredibly offensive to me that a Republican from Florida, the very people who CONSPIRED to leave votes uncounted so that their Governor's brother could win the presidency, is trying to lecture others on the sancity of democracy. Talk of nerve.

Or do you dispute the reports of every news agency who counted all the votes that Gore would have won should all the votes have been counted? Do you dispute that Gore would have won by a considerable margin should thousands of black voters not been "mistakenly" removed from the voting rolls? Do you dispute that Gore would have won by 20-30,000 votes should the ballots of certain counties not been "accidentally" misleading? Well, what kind of democracy is this when a president can get "elected" based upon the suspicious mistakes of his own brother, who was, after all, ultimately responsible for there being a clean election in Florida? Particularly when the member of the media who called the election in his favor, whereby the actual winner appeared like he was trying to "steal" an election simply by demanding that all the votes be counted, just so happened to be his cousin. If Arbenz had come to power under similar circumstances, would we have had the right to overthrow him?

Would a real democracy like Mexico have been within their rights to sponsor a coup d'etat in the U.S. during 2002?

Edited by Pat Speer
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When his book “Secret History: The CIA’s Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala 1952-1954” was published in 1999, Nick Cullather, wrote an introduction describing his experiences working in the CIA archives.

Cullather was one of several young historians (he had just completed his PhD) who had been brought in as a result of President Clinton’s decision to open up the CIA files. This was in response to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. The KGB files were being released and as it was pointed out at the time, “if the Communist enemy was going public, how could the United States refuse.” Cullather adds “Americans expected not only a ‘peace dividend’ after the iron curtain fell, but a truth dividend as well.” (page viii)

Clinton appointed R. James Woolsey as director of the CIA. He promised a “warts and all” disclosure of all historical material and made covert operations the first priority. (page xii) However, other senior figures in the CIA made sure that this did not happen. When Clinton issued a new executive order on declassification, the CIA requested exemption for 106 million pages of pre-1975 documents, almost two-thirds of the total. (page xiv)

George C. Herring, a member of the CIA’s Historical Review Panel, complained that the Clinton program of declassification had been turned into “a brilliant public relations snow job” and a “carefully nurtured myth” of openness. (page xiv)

Clinton’s attempt at declassifying documents was brought to an end by George Tenet. He told a Senate confirmation committee that he intended to “hold the reviews of these covert actions in abeyance for the time being”. He added: “I would turn our gaze from the past, it is dangerous, frankly to keep looking over our shoulders.”

When Cullather’s account was finally declassified, it was heavily redacted. It is interesting what the CIA removed. For example, on page 16 Cullather wrote: “Thomas G. Corcoran was the company’s (United Fruit) main conduit to the sources of power. Described by Fortune (magazine) as a “purveyor of concentrated influence,” Concoran had a network of well-placed friends in business and government.” The next section, four lines long, where Cullather names these “well-placed friends” has been completely removed.

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The government is (rightly, I am afraid) assuming that the only mechanism that can prevent this from becoming a reality is 'an irate American public,' which begs the question, is there anything that can outrage the American public into gasp, protesting?

The generation of the 1970's antiwar activists would look at our culture and probably think that 'we deserve whatever we get,' and I tend to agree.


"The generation of the 1970's antiwar activists would look at our culture and probably think that 'we deserve whatever we get,' and I tend to agree."

Throw in the anti-nuke, as well as the Civil Rights activists of the 1960's, and I'd say 'you got that right,' Mr. Howard! BTW, my addressing you as Mr. Howard, is in no way meant to be sarcastic. It's a matter of being able to distinguish you from the rest of the "Roberts" in the membership of this forum. I hope you don't mind?

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John, lest you forget we were in a Cold War with the Communists and the Communists made no secret of their attempting to subvert democratic governments throughout the world.

Arbenz if not a Communist himself was at least friendly with the Communists. His election was made possible by the convenient violent death of his primary anti-Communist opponent.

So the United States effected the removal of a man who came into office on the shed blood of his opponent, blood shed by men named by Arbenz.

We won the cold war. What more can I say?

As Nick Cullather points out in “Secret History: The CIA’s Classified Account of its Operations in Guatemala 1952-54”, CIA agents on the ground in Guatemala (1949-51) considered Arbenz to be “brilliant” and “cultured” (page 20). It was also believed that Arbenz was a “conservative” and an “opportunist” who could be manipulated to “steer a middle course” (page 17). They actually thought he would be an improvement on Arevalo. This is why Thomas Mann, head of the State Department’s office of Central America, rejected Tommy Corcoran’s calls for the CIA to overthrow Arbenz.

It was of course the policy of the Truman administration to encourage social reform in “friendly” third world countries. It was believed that this would create long-term, pro-American allies.

It is ridiculous to claim that Arbenz was under the control of the Communists. In the 1950 elections, Communists only won four seats in a 61-member congress. CIA reports show that the Communist Party had less than 200 active members. Nor did Arbenz appoint any communists to his Cabinet. He did share the Communist Party’s views on land reform. But then again, so did the Truman administration.

When Arbenz published Decree 900 on 17th June 1952 the Truman administration did not complain. In fact, US aid officials considered it moderate, “constructive and democratic in its aims”. It was in fact similar to agrarian programs the United States was sponsoring in Japan and Formosa (page 22). The idea being that the best protection against communism was to redistribute land to the poor. After all, it was the desire by peasants for land that brought about the revolution in Russia in 1917 and was also a factor in the Chinese Revolution in 1949.

As Nick Cullather points out: “The CIA also supported the objectives of the Guatemalan reform – the breakup of large estates into small freeholds – in some of its own programs. The Agency, worried that feudal agriculture would allow Communists in the Third World to ride to power on a wave of reform, had tried for some years to change traditional rural social structures that it considered vulnerable to subversion” (page 26).

However, on the urging of Tommy Corcoran and the United Fruit Company, Eisenhower ordered a change of policy when he replaced Truman as president. On 9th December, 1953, Allen Dulles authorized $3 million for the PBSUCCESS project (page 44) According to Cullather, the State Department “assembled a team of diplomats to assist PBSUCCESS from Central American embassies. The group’s leader, John Peurifoy, took over as Ambassador in Guatemala City in October 1953 (pages 44-45).

Kermit Roosevelt, who had organized the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadeq of Iran on 19th August, 1953 (TPAJAX) was approached to run PBSUCCESS. However, he was already disillusioned by the events that had followed the removal of Mossadeq. He warned his superiors at the CIA that it was “ever going to try something like this again, we must be absolutely sure that people and army want what we want.” (Kermit Roosevelt, Countercoup, 1979 - page 210)

It is also necessary to take into account Arbenz’s rival in the election: Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes. The CIA was opposed to him becoming president because of his past. As a general in President Ubico’s army, “Ydigoras gained a reputation as a ruthless enforcer of the vagrancy laws, on at least one occasion ordering his troops to rape Indian women and imprison their children” (page 51 – information based on Ydigoras’s CIA file: 79-01025A, Box 81)

The attack in the media on Arbenz was orchestrated by Operation Mockingbird. Not surprisingly, the first report came from Phil Graham’s Washington Post. It was based round the story of Arbenz’s importing Czech arms to Guatemala. What happened was that Eisenhower imposed an arms blockade on Arbenz. He knew that this was the beginning of a CIA plot to overthrow him. Arbenz also realized that the only way he could arm himself was now via countries that were not under the control of the United States. He was therefore forced to do a deal with a communist country. In January, 1954, Arbenz sent his agricultural minister, Alfonso Martinez, to Prague to negotiate a deal. The CIA followed Martinez to Prague and knew all about the arms deal with Czechoslovakia. The weapons sold to Arbenz were weapons captured from the German Army during the Second World War. The plan was to distribute them to worker’ militias (Arbenz correctly assumed that the CIA had penetrated the leadership of the armed forces).

When the weapons arrived in Guatemala, the story was reported in the Washington Post. The paper gave details of the Alfhem shipment and added: “The threat of Communist imperialism is no longer academic, it has arrived” (page 79). This publicity meant that Arbenz had to change his strategy and give most of the weapons to the army instead of the worker’ militias (page 80).

Operation Mockingbird also ensured that the CIA involvement in the overthrow of Arbenz was not reported in the American media. John Peurifoy arranged with Arthur Hays Sulzberger, the owner of the New York Times, to remove its correspondent Sydney Gruson, from Guatemala (he was the only American journalist that Peurifoy was unable to control. Peurifoy met with American reporters in Guatemala City to discuss their reports. At his suggestion they all agreed to drop words such as “invasion”. Peurifoy also met with the French and British consuls in Guatemala and they agreed to “have a word with their correspondents” about their reporting of the invasion (page 94).

However, the CIA was unable to control foreign newspapers. Aneurin Bevan, the leader of the left-wing of the Labour Party and himself the target of CIA plots and smear campaigns, wrote a series of articles explaining CIA involvement in the removal of Arbenz. He also reported that the CIA was working on behalf of the United Fruit Company (page 93).

On 18th June, 1954, the Guatemalan foreign minister Guillermo Toriello, petitioned the UN Security Council to intervene to stop the outside aggression of the United Fruit Company. On 20th June, the UN Security Council approved a French motion calling all nations to keep out of trying to overthrow the democratically elected Arbenz. However, America ignored this ruling and continued in its efforts to instate a military dictator in Guatemala.

The Times (UK) and Le Monde (France) attacked the cynical hypocrisy behind America’s “modern forms of economic colonialism”. UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold charged that “the United States’ attitude was completely at variance with the UN Charter”. However, America’s allies went along with the CIA cover-up. As Winston Churchill, the British prime minister said at the time to one of his colleagues, why should he be bothered, “I’d never heard of this bloody place Guatemala” until now (page 111).

After the military coup the CIA obtained over 150,000 documents from the offices of Arbenz’s government. The CIA later admitted they were unable to find evidence of the subject that “we are most interested in, namely the elements of Soviet support and control of Communism in Guatemala” (page 107 – 79-01228A Box 23). This was confirmed by the historian, Ronald M. Schneider, who also obtained access to these documents (Ronald M. Schneider, Communism in Guatemala, 1979).

As soon as Castillo Armas took power he immediately revoked Arbenz’s reforms. He disfranchised illiterates (two thirds of the electorate), cancelled land reforms, outlawed all political parties, trade unions and peasant organizations. The new regime opened up its country to the “Mafia who joined with Guatemalan Army officers in opening gambling halls” (page 114).

Left-wing activists were rounded up and arrested and some were executed. In fact, during his research, Cullather discovered a CIA document that revealed that CIA planned to assassinate Guatemalan officials and political activists after the successful coup. The document also provides information on the best ways to murder these people (it takes up 15 pages of the document and includes details of how to use firearms, explosives, other weapons and manual techniques to kill your victim). The names are blacked out so it is impossible to discover if the new military dictatorship followed this advice (page xv and Appendix C).

What was the result of the overthrow of Arbenz? According to a UN report published 15 years after the imposition of a military dictator in Guatemala, three-quarters of the people were living “below starvation level”, three-quarters were illiterate, four-fifths lacked adequate drinking-water facilities or toilets and one fifth of the children died before they reached the age of five. (Sidney Lens, The Military-Industrial Complex, 1970, page 29).

As Lyndon Johnson’s National Security Adviser wrote on 24th June, 1966 after a military controlled election in Guatemala: “the political knack for reaching practical working relationships with the military and other conservative elements is one which I hope will continue to prosper in this hemisphere”.

In 1977 Jimmy Carter became the first American president to condemn Guatemala’s civil rights record. However, with the election of Ronald Reagan, American foreign policy returned to one of working with military dictatorships in Latin America. In 1981 Amnesty International reported that “tortures and murder are part of a deliberate and long-standing program of the Guatemalan Government”. The victims were “members of rural cooperatives, grassroots organizers, labor leaders, left-wing students, and armed guerrillas”.

In his article, Culture of Fear, Piero Gleijeses, described Reagan’s relationship with the Guatemalan government. On 4th April, 1985, Rosario Godoy, the 24-year-old leader of Guatemala’s only human rights group, disappeared along with her two-year-old son and her younger brother. Their corpses were found in a ravine in the outskirts of Guatemala City. They had all been tortured. This included the baby whose fingernails had been pulled out. The Guatemalan government claimed that the three had died in a car accident. Elliott Abrahams, Reagan’s Under-Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, issued a statement claiming that “there is no evidence indicating other then the deaths were due to an accident” (America Watch, Guatemala: The Group for Mutual Support, 1985, pages 40-46). Thankfully, Congress resisted Reagan’s attempts to resume the military aid to Guatemala that had been cut off by Carter in 1977.

It has been claimed that the real reason for the overthrow of Arbenz was to relight the Cold War. Stalin had died in February 1953. In May 1954 the Geneva Conference began in an attempt to settle the disputes in Indochina and Formosa (page 93). Many observers were optimistic about these developments. This hope came to an end with the engineered events in Guatemala. Backed by an obedient media, Eisenhower now had an excuse to prolong the Cold War (page 93). This he was able to do with a compliant American media still suffering the consequences of McCarthyism and the blacklisting of left-wing journalists.

The events in Guatemala shaped the future of Latin America and ensured it became a focal point of the Cold War. As James Dunkerly has pointed out: “The Guatemala intervention shaped the attitudes and stratagems of an older generation of radicals, for whom this experience signaled the necessity of armed struggle and an end to illusions about peaceful, legal, and reformist methods.” (James Dunkerly, Power in the Isthmus: A Political History of Modern Central America, 1988, page 429)

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What we are left with is that there is no documentation that the CIA killed anyone (what did it do, pass a "hit-list" to Armas?) but it is clear that a Communist supporter or Arbenz killed his right-wing opponent and soon afer Armas deposed Arbenz a card-carrying Communist may have killed Armas.

The fact that you have responded to my posting showing that the above is a lot of nonsense that you now accept my account of these events (based on the CIA files published by Nick Cullather).

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Sidney Blumenthal has claimed that this executive order was part of a coup d’etat.

I'll be honest with you, just to show you how paranoid I am. I had serious doubts that Bill Clinton would leave office. With everyone in fear of the millenium bug as 2000 approached, I thought he might use the chaos created by computer crashes as an excuse to suspend the Constitution for purposes of "national security."

After 2000 came and nothing happened, I thought Clinton might use the Constitutional crisis created by the 2000 election mess as an excuse to stay in office. I felt relieved when the crisis passed as Bush successfully stole the election, having no idea at the time what that was going to mean.

I now have serious doubts that the present gang in power is going to leave office. But I'm hopeful, because I've been wrong before.

Funny you should mention Bush and cronies not leaving power. The govt. has been preparing the way for this scenario for decades now. Martial law can be imposed under any situation which is deemed to be a "serious" threat to national security.

The 9/11 event was more than sufficient for that martial law to be put into effect, for an indeterminate length of time, while giving the President what can best be described as dictatorial powers.

LHO wrote about the coming collapse of America at some point before he was killed. Here is something which he was supposed to have hand written.

"The Communist Party of the United States has betrayed itself! It has turned itself into the traditional lever of a foreign power to overthrow the Government of the United States, not in the name of freedom or high ideals, but in servile conformity to the wishes of the Soviet Union and in anticipation of Soviet Russia's complete domination of the American continent.

The Forsters and the Flynns of the subsidized Communist Party of the United States have shown themselves to be willing, guillible messengers of the Kremlin' Internationalist propaganda. There can be no international solidarity with the arch-betrayers of that most sublime ideal. There can be no sympathy for those who have turned the ideal of communism into a vile curse to Western man.

The Soviets have committed crimes unsurpassed even by their early-day capitalist counterparts, the imprisonment of their own peoples, with the mass extermination so typical of Stalin, and the individual suppression and regimentation under Khrushchev. The deportations, the purposeful curtailment of diet in the consumer-slighted population of Russia, the murder of history, the prostitution of art and culture.

The Communist movement in the US, personalized by the Communist Party USA, has turned itself into a "valuable gold coin" of the Kremlin. It has failed to denounce any actions of the Soviet Government when similar actions on the part of the US Government bring pious protest.



United States atom bomb tests


NATO maneuvers



Negro lynchings

Not Denounced:

Russia atom bomb test


Warsaw Pact maneuvers


Eastern Germany


Only by declaring itself to be, not only not dependent upon, but opposed to Soviet domination and influence, can dormant and disillusioned persons hope to unite to free the radical movement from its inertia. Through the refusal of the Communist Party USA to give a clear-cut condemnation of Soviet piratical acts, progressives have been weakened into a stale class of fifth columnists of the Russians. In order to free the hesitating and justifiably uncertain future activist for the work ahead, we must remove that obstacle which has so efficiently retarded him, namely the devotion of the Communist Party USA to the Soviet Union, Soviet Government, and Soviet Communist International Movement.

It is readily foreseeable that a coming economic, political, or military crisis, internal or external, will bring about the final destruction of the capitalist system. Assuming this, we can see how preparation in a special party could safeguard an independent course of action after the debacle -- an American course steadfastly opposed to intervention by outside, relatively stable foreign powers, no matter from where they come, but in particular, and if necessary, violently opposed to Soviet intervention.

No party of this type can attract into its ranks more than a nominal number of fundamental radicals. It is not the nature of such an organization to attract such a membership as, let's say, the Republicans or even the Socialist Party, but it is possible to enlist the aid of disenchanted members of the Socialist Party and even some from more "respected" (from a capitalist viewpoint) parties.

But whereas our political enemies talk loudly now, they have no concept of what total crisis means. The faction which has the greater basis in spirit and the most far-sighted and ready membership of the radical futurist will be the decisive factor.

We have no interest in violently opposing the US Government. Why should we manifest opposition when there are far greater forces at work to bring about the fall of the United States Government than we could ever possibly muster. We do not have any interest in directly assuming the head of Government in the event of such an all-finishing crisis. As dissident Americans, we are merely interested in opposing foreign intervention, which is an easily drawn conclusion if one believes in the theory of crisis.

The emplacement of a separate, democratic, pure communist society is our goal, but one with union-communes, democratic socializing of production and without regard to the twisting apart of Marxist Communism by other powers. The right of private personal property, religious tolerance, and freedom of travel (which have all been violated under Russian "Communist" rule) must be strictly observed.

Resourcefulness and patient working towards the aforesaid goals are preferred rather than loud and useless manifestations of protest. Silent observance of our principles is of primary importance. But these preferred tactics now may prove to be too limited in the near future. They should not be confused with slowness, indecision, or fear.

Only the intellectually fearless could even be remotely attracted to our doctrine. And yet this doctrine requires the utmost restraint -- a state of being in itself majestic in power. This is stoicism, and yet stoicism has not been affected for many years and never for such a purpose.

There are organizations already formed in the United States who have declared they shall become effective only after the military debacle of the United States. Organizations such as the Minute Men -- or the opposite of a stoical organization. But these performers are simply preparing to redefend in their own back yards a system which, they take for granted, will be defeated militarily elsewhere -- a strange thing to hear from these "patriots." These armed groups represent hard-core American Capitalist supporters. There will also be small armed Communist and probably Fascist groups. There will also be anarchist and religious groups at work.

However, the bulk of the population will not adhere to any of these groups, because they will not be inclined to join any of the old factions with which we are all so familiar. But the people will never accept a new order presented by politicians or opportunists. Logically, they will deem it necessary to oppose those systems of government against whom they have been educagation. It is, I think, the action of the active segregationist minority and the great body of indifferent people in the South who do the United States more harm in the eyes of the world's people than the whole world Communist movement."

If this writing truly is something original, which came from Oswald's mind, he was anything but a nut.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Thought members would like to see this article by Michael Dobbs:

Still Secret After All These Years

By Michael Dobbs

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Washington Post; B02


Government secrecy will not be an issue, I told myself optimistically as I began to research a history of the Cuban missile crisis.

After all, the classic showdown of the Cold War occurred more than four decades ago, well outside the 25-year period established by the administrations of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush for the automatic release of everything but the most sensitive government documents. The Soviet Union has been consigned to the ash heap of history, and '60s-era defense technologies, such as the U-2 spy plane, are no longer considered secret.

How wrong I was.

It turns out that most government documents on the missile crisis -- including the principal Pentagon and State Department records collections -- are still classified. Hundreds of documents released to researchers a decade ago have since been withdrawn as part of a controversial -- itself secret -- reclassification program. And the backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests to the National Archives has grown to two, three or even five years.

Six months traveling across the country in pursuit of missile crisis records -- from the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston to the National Archives in College Park to the Air Force Historical Research Agency in Montgomery, Ala. -- spawns conflicting impressions. On the one hand, these institutions are part of a national treasure trove of archival riches. On the other, the system of declassifying government information has become so chaotic in recent years that it is difficult for outsiders, and even many insiders, to understand the logic behind it.

Thanks to the White House tapes declassified in 1996, I have eavesdropped on intimate conversations between President Kennedy and his aides as they struggled to respond to the deployment of Soviet rockets less than 100 miles from Key West. I have perused top-secret signals intelligence released by the National Security Agency, and page after page of U.S. invasion plans for Cuba, down to the gradient of the landing beaches and the Cuban "most wanted" list.

On the other hand, Air Force records describing the inadvertent penetration of Soviet air space by a U-2 at the very peak of the crisis are still secret. The files of former Kennedy military adviser Maxwell Taylor are full of withdrawal slips marked "Access restricted." An archival turf war between competing agencies has blocked access to the records of the State Department intelligence office.

Te extent of the reclassification program only became clear late last month after a historian noticed that dozens of documents that he had previously copied from the National Archives had mysteriously disappeared from State Department boxes. The withdrawn records included several documents that had already been published in official government histories, such as a 1948 CIA memo on using balloons to drop propaganda leaflets over Communist countries.

While the reclassification drive is intensely irritating to historians, an even bigger problem is the ripple effect such efforts have had on declassification. The routine declassification of government records has ground to a virtual standstill over the past few years because of the diversion of resources to reexamining previously released records. Documents that would have been released routinely a decade ago are trapped in a bureaucratic twilight zone.

A good example of this phenomenon are the thousands of pages of Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense records on the missile crisis transferred to the National Archives more than five years ago, but currently stored in confidential stacks. Archives officials told me that they will probably be able to release part of that collection in the next few months, but the bulk must go through an elaborate interagency screening process that could take several years.

It is instructive to compare the situation of Cuban missile crisis records with that of World War II records. The last great wartime secret -- the existence of the Enigma code-breaking machine -- was officially revealed in 1974, 29 years after the end of the war. By 1990, 45 years after the victory over Nazi Germany, the wartime records were almost completely accessible. An equivalent amount of time has passed since the missile crisis, but archival access is much more limited.

While the reclassification drive has accelerated under the Bush administration, particularly since 9/11, it actually began under Clinton. The initial impulse came from the Kyl-Lott amendment, passed by Congress in 1998 in response to a scandal involving the alleged leaking of nuclear secrets to China. The CIA and the Pentagon took advantage of the new climate to look for information that had supposedly been released without their consent, and demanded its withdrawal.

On March 2, the National Archives announced yet another initiative to respond to the flurry of bad publicity about reclassification -- this time to check whether documents have been improperly withdrawn from circulation. While the initiative has been welcomed by historians, it also carries dangers. A vast amount of energy, time and taxpayer money is being wasted reviewing and re-reviewing the same documents.

If the missile crisis is any guide, the whole laborious process could be greatly speeded up by better coordination between agencies, improved data management, and what one frustrated National Archives records officer terms the application of "a little common sense." Some agencies -- the Air Force is a prime example -- lack an effective system for tracking documents previously declassified under the Freedom of Information Act.

By contrast, the CIA, which is often accused of dragging its feet, has found a way to make declassified documents instantly available to all researchers. The agency has a public database that includes day-by-day intelligence analyses on the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba, based on reconnaissance flights by U-2s and low-level planes.

Archival work is a little like tackling a giant jigsaw puzzle. If you are patient enough, you can eventually make out the picture, even if many of the pieces are missing. In the case of the missile crisis, I have assembled enough of the puzzle to be confident that few, if any, of the missing pieces contain national security information that could be useful to an enemy -- the criterion established by both Bush and Clinton for continuing to classify more than 25-year-old secrets.

So why, if the puzzle is largely resolved, am I -- and other researchers -- making such a fuss? Because history is not just about the big picture. It is also about the small stuff, thousands upon thousands of individual acts of bravery and skill and, yes, foolishness. In order to make sense of the anguished White House debates between Kennedy and his advisers in October 1962, you need to understand how the Cold War was actually fought, by the generals, the spies, the reconnaissance pilots. It is the details that make history come alive -- and in far too many cases those details are still being hidden from us.

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Another related article by Fred Kaplan for Slate Magazine worth reading:

Spies Like Us: Listening to leakers could land you in jail.

By Fred Kaplan

If a recent ruling by a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., is accepted as the word of law, every national-security journalist and researcher in America stands in danger of going to prison.

This is not an exaggeration.

The ruling—made by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis on Jan. 20 and reprinted in today's edition of Steven Aftergood's invaluable Secrecy News—states that federal espionage laws apply not only to officials who leak classified information but also to private citizens who receive it. Speaking from the bench, the judge said:

"All persons who have authorized possession of classified information and persons who have unauthorized possession, who came into possession in an unauthorized way … must abide by the law. … So, that applies to academics, lawyers, journalists, professors, whatever."

Judge Ellis made these remarks at the sentencing hearing of Lawrence Anthony Franklin, a former Pentagon official who had earlier pleaded guilty to leaking top-secret information to two analysts at the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee.

Franklin's crime, while not uncommon in Washington circles, was at least straightforward; those who leak state secrets know that if they're caught, they may face penalties. The novelty of this case, however, is that the Justice Department went after—and a grand jury indicted—not only Franklin, the leaker, but also the two AIPAC leakees. (Franklin was tried first; Judge Ellis sentenced him to 151 months in prison, with the mutual understanding that his term will be substantially reduced after he testifies against his AIPAC "co-conspirators," Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, at their trial.)

Rosen and Weissman, who were not government officials and have not signed the legal pledge associated with security clearances, were indicted not for being spies or for passing secrets to foreign governments (if they had, that would have made their case something else entirely) but rather for giving classified information merely "to persons not entitled to receive it."

In a column dealing with the case last month, I wrote that this is what investigative reporters do all the time—they receive information from insiders, write stories about it, and give them to their editors and readers, who are "not entitled to receive it"—and that if Rosen and Weissman are prosecuted, the Washington Post's Walter Pincus and The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh could be next. Conceivably, anyone who even reads their stories—and who therefore improperly possesses classified information—could be indicted. (Franklin, after all, told the two AIPAC analysts about the secrets; he didn't give them documents.)

Now we know that the federal judge presiding over the trial made precisely this point: The law under which Franklin was prosecuted and the AIPAC Two have been indicted applies, as he put it, "to academics, lawyers, journalists, professors, whatever."

Nobody has ever been prosecuted for receiving classified information, even though the law in question—Title 18 of the U.S. criminal code, Chapter 37 ("Espionage and Censorship), Section 793 ("Gathering, Transmitting, or Losing Defense Information")—clearly allows such prosecutions. It states that persons who improperly transmit or receive classified information have committed a crime if they have "intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation." (This is a fairly easy hurdle for a prosecutor to clear. Notice: Defendants don't need to have "intent" to do harm, but rather "intent or reason to believe"—and they don't need to have "reason to believe" that the information would hurt the United States but rather that it could be used "to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.")

This law was passed in 1917. There's a reason it's rarely been invoked in any federal case and never in a case like this one: It's extremely vague and absurdly all-encompassing. If the law is read literally, anyone who takes a photo of a defense factory or a military base could be prosecuted on espionage charges. (For a hair-raising itemization of all the activities Section 793 prohibits, click here.)

What's new is that, for the first time, the U.S. Justice Department has decided to read this law literally. At Franklin's sentencing hearing, Judge Ellis made this point explicitly:

The law says what it says. … If it's not sensible, it ought to be changed. But [Congress is] the body that changes it, not the judge. The judge simply interprets and applies the law.

If Rosen and Weissman go down, will prosecutors really go after the media next? The point is, a federal judge has explicitly given them the green light to do so. Given this Justice Department's penchant for compelling journalists to turn over sources and notes, the scenario is not remotely far-fetched. At the very least, the ruling, if it stands, will have a chilling effect. The legal departments of every American newspaper and magazine may feel obligated to advise their publishers that stories containing classified information could trigger costly litigation.

America, it turns out, has had an Official Secrets Act on the books for nearly a century. And now it also has an administration eager to enforce it.

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