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Rangoon78's picture

Harry Thurman on the CIA: "*I think it was a mistake. And if I had known what was going to happen, I never would have done it. . . it got out of hand…"

"At the height of the Cold War, JFK risked committing the greatest crime in human history: starting a nuclear war. Horrified by the specter of nuclear annihilation, Kennedy gradually turned away from his long-held Cold Warrior beliefs and toward a policy of lasting peace. But to the military and intelligence agencies in the United States, who were committed to winning the Cold War at any cost, Kennedy’s change of heart was a direct threat to their power and influence. Once these dark "Unspeakable" forces recognized that Kennedy’s interests were in direct opposition to their own, they tagged him as a dangerous traitor, plotted his assassination, and orchestrated the subsequent cover-up."

“I also believe,” he said, “that we must reexamine our own attitudes, as individuals and as a nation, for our attitude is as essential as theirs.”

On November 22, 1963, the US government shot and killed JFK. On April 4, 1968, the US government shot and killed MLK. Two months later, on June 6, 1968, the US government shot and killed RFK.

Since then, no black leader has spoken out for peace. Since then, no important politician has spoken out for peace.

Resist war and die. Obama will not make that mistake, nor will any other person who decides to run for national office.

At American University on June 10, 1963, JFK spoke about his desire for world peace. He communicated his resolve to form a new relationship with Khrushchev. He spoke about the necessity of a pursuit toward disarmament. He related his intentions to establish a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. He acknowledged his country's past faults and recognized the Russian people as wanting peace as much as the American people. "And we are all mortal," he stated. Though this extremely important speech was ignored in the United States, it was disseminated throughout the Soviet Union, per order of Khrushchev, who was prepared to respond favorably to JFK's peace initiative. The speech also certified JFK's death warrant. With so many powerful enemies opposing his policies and hating him, JFK didn't have a chance as he was being maneuvered into the crossfire in Dallas.

President Kennedy was aware of the power of his enemies and he knew the dangers facing him. But he persevered and mandated that all U.S. personnel would be withdrawn from Vietnam; he was determined to never send in combat troops even if this meant defeat. He also refused to intervene militarily in Laos. He exchanged private letters with Khrushchev, which infuriated the CIA, and secretly initiated plans to attain rapproachement with Cuba, which further incensed the Agency. Cuba's Fidel Castro, whom the CIA hated as intensely as it hated Kennedy, was equally eager to begin an American-Cuba dialogue. In fact, Castro was meeting with a JFK representative when the President was murdered. JFK died a martyr and the forces of evil that killed him also killed his vision of peace.

Lyndon Johnson, the CIA's ally, assumed the presidency. He cancelled talks with Khrushchev and refused Castro's pleas to continue the dialogue. He reversed JFK's withdrawal plan from Vietnam as well as his plan to neutralize Laos. The military industrial complex took control of the country. The policy of plausible deniability led the way to assassinations of foreign leaders, the overthrowing of foreign governments and horrors committed all over the globe. If JFK had not been murdered, we would not have had the prolongation of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the purported War on Terror and the steady moral deterioration of America. Interestingly, one month after JFK's assassination, President Truman wrote an article for The Washington Post cautioning about the threat of the CIA taking over America*

From an review of
JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters

harry s. truman on cia covert operations - National Archives:
DECLASSIFIED Authority NND 947003

Whether he would have been more effective if he hacin't gone public. is for others to address



Two other books published in 1973 also appeared to reinforce some of the views that President Truman expressed in his Washington Post article. In Plain Speaking: • 'Merle Miller relates Truman's response to Miller's question, "How do you feel about 'the CIA now?"

*I think it was a mistake. And if I had known what was going to happen, I never would have done it. . . it got out of hand.The fella. . . the one that was in the White House after me never paid any attention to it, and it got out of hand. Why, they've got an organization . . . that is practically the equal of the Pentagon . . . one Pentagon is too many . . . those fellas in the CIA don't just report on wars . . . they go out and make their own and there's nobody to keep track of what they're up to


Obama made a disarmament speech; lucky for him the CIA knows he's kidding.

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Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

Re: "lucky for him the CIA knows he's kidding."
In fact there are those who contend than Barack Obama is in fact a CIA creation and the culmination of their best (worst) efforts; but… that's crazy talk, isn't it?

Submitted by cg.eye on

[tinfoil hat]
The dismantling of FERPA by Bill Gates' foundation, in favor of the country-wide K-12 student database (mentioned here could mean that the President's college records, especially his transition from Occidental College to the big leagues, could fall open to scrutiny -- to correlate any gaps in enrollment and course attendance with possible training of other sorts.

Of course, as soon as the Right starts pushing for details, special reinforcing (and awfully-specific) legislation could be enacted. Still, a girl can dream....
[/tinfoil hat]

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

President Kennedy was not "maneuvered" into any "cross-fire," his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was a self-directed, odd ball communist who acted alone. As to whether JFK was on the verge of becoming a peace activist in late 1963, his chief confidante was his brother Robert Kennedy and RFK remained a hawk on Vietnam for several years thereafter.

President Nixon, who was elected just five years after the Kennedy assassination, sought détente with the Soviets (see Strategic Arms Limitation Talks I) and rapprochement with China. Though Nixon ended up resigning his office, that turn of events wasn't the result of some sort of operation conducted by the CIA or any other national security agency. What would have been the point of a nefarious CIA killing Kennedy then allowing Nixon to get elected or then driving him from office? The driver of both the Soviet and the China policy in the Nixon administration was Henry Kissinger, a Rockefeller family protégé, who from Day 1 assumed a role of even greater personal power in Ford administration than he had had under Nixon assuring that the executive branch's foreign and national security policy continued unchanged, even with first Donald Rumsfeld and then Dick Cheney serving as President Ford's White House Chief of Staff.

As to the "no important politician has spoken out for peace" since the 1968 assassinations of MLK and RFK phenomenon, the hawks Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan won landslide re-elections in 1972 and 1984, respectively. There hasn't been a lot of electoral support nationally for a peace candidate during the last fifty years (though the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern certainly was one, as was the 1984 and 1988 Democratic presidential primary candidate Jesse Jackson).

And, by the way, there's more money for the military-congressional-industrial complex in maintaining a conventional war capability than in relying on nuclear weapons stockpiles-- the big selling point for nukes is that with them, you get a "bigger bang for the buck."

Members of the left in this country need to figure out why they are so bad at electoral politics or even in taking control of the Democratic Party and, in the meantime, stop falling for fantasy hero constructs and fantasy excuses for their failures.

Submitted by lambert on

No vision of an alternative. "You can't beat something with nothing." This situation is I think gradually improving...

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

new everyday. I didn't know that was Thatcher rhetoric. Well that is the one good thing you can say about her, she sure was sure of herself. No angst there, none at all, well at least not until she got evicted.

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

Walt Disney to Roy, when Three Little Pigs was such a smash hit and people wanted more and Roy wanted to give them more pigs.

Submitted by lambert on

Got a link on that? Not only do I know somebody who used to work for Uncle Walt, I'd really like to propagate that. It should be hung round Steve Israel's neck like the stinking albatross that it is.

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

Animation podcast here, though it's probably easier to go googling.

@19:08 - On sequels on sequels (Madagascar, Ice Age)

Chelsea: I read a book on the life of Walt Disney and it talked about there was this one time where one of the biggest hits they had was The Three Little Pigs. And everyone just loved the song that was there and was just, you know, it was the very first song that Disney put out as far as their music selection because it was such a hit in this movie. Then everybody was just like, "They want more pigs!" You know, "Everybody wants to hear more about these pigs!" And like you got Roy Disney was like, "Give them the pigs! They want it," you know. And Walt's just like, "You can't beat pigs with pigs." All right? And I've always taken that to heart, because you just can't beat something with the same thing.

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

Truman's 12/22/63 Washington Post op-ed, "Limit CIA Role to Intelligence," is here

We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.

Roy McGovern, Common Dreams 12/29/09, gives history:

"Are Presidents Afraid of the CIA?"

Not Just Paranoia

In that fear, President Obama stands in the tradition of a dozen American presidents. Harry Truman and John Kennedy were the only ones to take on the CIA directly. Worst of all, evidence continues to build that the CIA was responsible, at least in part, for the assassination of President Kennedy. Evidence new to me came in response to things I included in my article of Dec. 22, "Break the CIA in Two."

What follows can be considered a sequel that is based on the kind of documentary evidence after which intelligence analysts positively lust.

Unfortunately for the CIA operatives who were involved in the past activities outlined below, the temptation to ask Panetta to put a SECRET stamp on the documentary evidence will not work. Nothing short of torching the Truman Library might conceivably help. But even that would be a largely feckless "covert action," copy machines having long since done their thing.

In my article of Dec. 22, I referred to Harry Truman's op-ed of exactly 46 years before, titled "Limit CIA Role to Intelligence," in which the former President expressed dismay at what the Central Intelligence Agency had become just 16 years after he and Congress created it.

The Washington Post published the op-ed on December 22, 1963 in its early edition, but immediately excised it from later editions. Other media ignored it. The long hand of the CIA?

Truman wrote that he was "disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment" to keep the President promptly and fully informed and had become "an operational and at times policy-making arm of the government."

The Truman Papers

Documents in the Truman Library show that nine days after Kennedy was assassinated, Truman sketched out in handwritten notes what he wanted to say in the op-ed. He noted, among other things, that the CIA had worked as he intended only "when I had control."

Goes on for quite a ways after that, re Dulles and JFK fight. A LOT more there.

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

From Publisher's Weekly:

Hypnotized by covert action and pressured by presidents, the CIA, [says Legacy of Ashes author Tim Weiner], wasted its resources fomenting coups, assassinations and insurgencies, rigging foreign elections and bribing political leaders, while its rare successes inspired fiascoes like the Bay of Pigs and the Iran-Contra affair.[*] Meanwhile, Weiner contends, its proper function of gathering accurate intelligence languished. With its operations easily penetrated by enemy spies, the CIA was blind to events in adversarial countries like Russia, Cuba and Iraq and tragically wrong about the crucial developments under its purview, from the Iranian revolution and the fall of communism to the absence of Iraqi WMDs. Many of the misadventures Weiner covers, at times sketchily, are familiar, but his comprehensive survey brings out the persistent problems that plague the agency.

According to lefty celeb Roy McGovern, "Harry Truman and John Kennedy were the only ones to take on the CIA directly. Worst of all, evidence continues to build that the CIA was responsible, at least in part, for the assassination of President Kennedy." I won't even bother with his typically undernourished innuendo, this time about the JFK assassination, but as to who were the only "American presidents" to take on "the CIA directly" McGovern ought to catch himself up on how de facto president Dick Cheney treated that agency. From the Guardian review of the Weiner book:

The Nixon administration was the first to treat intelligence as simply another form of politics, Nixon's line being if it's secret, it's legal. Under Reagan, intelligence became a business. CIA head William Casey sidestepped Congress and worked round the law to find private financiers for his grand designs, which mostly boiled down to running guns to warlords. To Casey, espionage was just another kind of deal, hence the scandal of Iran-Contra, which laundered profits from illegal weapons sales into covert operations in Central America.

Look, I don't know if a December 22, 1963 Harry Truman op-ed failed to appear in the later editions of that day's Washington Post but that seems a little hard to credit. For starters, the District, Virginia, and Maryland home delivery versions of that morning paper were the ones that mattered, I assume it appeared in those, and the idea that former President Harry Truman couldn't get a particular op-ed widely circulated because of the "long hand" of the CIA sounds a bit absurd. (D. C. had an afternoon paper back then, The Evening Star, but I suppose WaPo might have put out a final daily edition that was always a truncated version of the morning edition, the later one having mid-day stock exchange data and, in the summer, the previous night's west coast baseball scores.)The bigger problem for Truman back then was, during his last year in office having having been plagued with worse job approval numbers than Nixon, Carter, or Bush the Younger, that eleven years later even with the Democrats back in control of the White House, Truman didn't really have that much clout to affect national security policy or undermine the CIA.

*The Bay of Pigs, Iran-Contra, and Abu Ghraib operations may have been CIA fiascoes but they were certainly all signed off on by the White House.

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

Because I trust and admire Ray McGovern, it sounds like he did personal research at Truman Library, and also because the only place the op-ed showed up online, when I looked, looks like someone's personal blog site, not WaPo archives or something official. If anyone has Lexis Nexus (would that do it?) maybe they can tell us more.

Also, this is perfect -- thanks:

Nixon's line being if it's secret, it's legal.

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

I have the book but it's not handy at the moment. I'm not remembering anything quite that explicit, it kinda sounds like a take off on this quote from the David Frost interview. However, that is a fair characterization of the sentiment that prevailed in that White House about what the CIA and the FBI were up to. It wasn't discussed in Legacy of Ashes but it is astounding how quickly the Nixon White House went from tentatively asking J. Edgar Hoover to conduct surveillance of government employees in search of leaks to setting up their own in-house capability to go well beyond that task. Blame it on the Zeitgeist

Speaking of which, in addition to any resentment he harbored for having been passed over for the directorship of the FBI when J. Edgar Hoover died in early May, 1972, just six weeks before the burglary arrests at the Watergate, it always offended Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat, that anyone outside the FBI should be engaging in warrant-less searches and wiretaps. If the president wanted some intel from illegal searching and seizing, he should have been asking the FBI to get it for him. Lucky for Felt, no one in the Republican hierarchy had a strong suspicion that he had been the shadowy figure who had sabotaged Nixon, otherwise Felt never would have gotten that Reagan pardon when he found himself, six years later, indicted and later convicted for running Cointelpro.

(The Carter Justice Department deserves a bit of recognition for having defended the Constitution by prosecuting at least some of the Cointelpro crimes.)

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

Here's a webpage at cia dot gov that's plenty hostile towards Truman but it would really be going the extra mile if it were all part of a then and now cover-up:

Truman on CIA
22 SEPT 93


Second Thoughts

Surprisingly enough for a history buff, Truman persisted in ignoring his indebtedness to others; CIA remained "his invention." This misconception inevitably spawned in him other misconceptions about the Agency. Nowhere are these more apparent than in his syndicated article which appeared in 1963 and then was widely reprinted in 1975 after the New York Times leveled charges of "massive illegal domestic" spying by the CIA and thereby provoked unprecedented criticism and examination of much Agency activity.

In that article Truman denounced CIA, which he termed "this quiet intelligence arm of the President," for becoming diverted — as he saw it — from the "original assignment" he had given it and for becoming "an operational and at times a policymaking arm of the Government." According to him, the agency's assignment had been the collection of intelligence reports from all sources and their conveyance to the President in their " 'natural raw' state and in as comprehensive a volume" as he could handle and free of "departmental 'treatment' or interpretations" so that he could do his "own thinking and evaluating." It had not been his expectation, he said, that CIA would be "injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. "

Whatever Truman thought in 1947 or 1963 about CIA's "original assignment," it now ought to be clear that the 1947 Act had a history that precluded the possibility of Truman being the sole and infallible expositor of what that assignment was. It should also be clear that history made the Agency's functions far more numerous and sophisticated than simply funneling "raw" intelligence to the President. It should also be clear that throughout that history no one the least interested in the subject was excusably ignorant of espionage as a part of the Agency's functions; and despite his disavowal of "peacetime cloak and dagger operations," Truman, as we shall see, was probably not ignorant of the fact either.


While Truman apparently did not actually write that 1963 article, an exchange of correspondence with Admiral Souers shortly after its appearance demonstrates his familiarity with and endorsement of it. About the same time — after the Bay of Pigs — he was privately telling Merle Miller that CIA was "a mistake," which "if I'd known what was going to happen, I never would have done it. "


46 "Harry Truman Writes: Limit CIA Role to Intelligence," Washington Post, Dec. 22, 1963, p. A-11. For an interesting inquiry into the authorship of this article see Benjamin F. Onate, "What Did Truman Say About CIA?" Studies in Intelligence Vol XVII/3, (Fall, 1973), pp. 9-11. The author establishes that the article was not written by the former President but by an assistant, David Noyes; doubt is also raised as to whether the President ever saw the article prior to its publication. On this latter point see later footnote on letter to Admiral Souers.

47 "Truman Writes: Limit CIA Role," see footnote above.


48 Letters, Souers to Truman, Dec. 27, 1963, and Truman to Souers, Jan. 17, 1964, Papers of Sidney Souers (Truman Library, Independence, Mo.) Souers, congratulating Truman on the Dec. 22, 1963, article, criticized Allen W. Dulles for "caus[ing] the C.I.A. to wander far from the original goal established by you ..." In reply, Truman said he was "happy ... that my article rang a bell with you because you know exactly why the organization was set up — it was set up so the President would know what was going on." That Truman actually wrote this letter seems evident from the postscript written apparently by him: "The girls aren't working today — so I fold'em and lick'em myself!"

I see I was wrong in speculating that Truman would be speaking without "much clout" about the CIA eleven years after leaving the presidency. From the above cited 1973 Benjamin F. Onate article:

On 22 December 1963 the Washington Post and numerous other newspapers published an article syndicated by the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), and signed by the late former President Harry S Truman...


The starter's flag had been dropped, and the contestants raced into the field. Senator Eugene McCarthy (D., Minn.) appeared in the Saturday Evening Post with an article entitled: "The CIA is Getting Out of Hand." Richard Starnes used the alleged Truman article as the peg for a column in the Washington Star headlined "Harry S Fires Telling Broadside at CIA." Dozens of editorials along the same line sprouted in such papers as the New York Post, the Tarrytown, N.Y., News, the Berkshire Eagle of Pittsfield, Mass., The Charlotte News in North Carolina, [etc., etc.]... It was open season on CIA over the 1963 year-end holidays, and for more than nine years since then the article in question has been stock-in-trade for writers of books and articles attacking CIA...

The CIA rocked back on its heels for a while, stunned that the source for these attacks should be President Truman, the Enacting Father of the Agency...


Prior to their meeting with Truman, General Carter and his Executive Assistant, Enno H. Knoche (now head of FBIS), were chatting briefly with David Noyes. Noyes had been a White House assistant while Truman was President, and continued to serve him in various capacities in retirement. According to a memorandum based on Knoche's notes on the meetings, "Noyes evidently drafts Mr. Truman's statements and articles, and admitted quite freely the authorship of the Truman article on CIA which was published on 22 December 1963.... It is highly doubtful whether President Truman ever saw the article prior to its publication, as he was already beginning to age considerably at that time."

Thanks for having your heart in the right place Ray McG. but, maybe, stick to the meta. From what I've seen, that's your forte.