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  February 23, 2018

Former CIA Director Admits to US Foreign Meddling, Laughs About It

The U.S. government has overthrown dozens of governments and rigged numerous foreign elections, and former CIA Director James Woolsey finds this funny - Ben Norton reports
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Ben Norton is a producer and reporter for The Real News. His work focuses primarily on U.S. foreign policy, the Middle East, media criticism, and movements for economic and social justice. Ben Norton was previously a staff writer at Salon and AlterNet. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.


LAURA INGRAHAM: We don't mess around in other people's elections, Jim?


BEN NORTON: The Russia hysteria that has taken hold in the United States has fixated on troll farms and Facebook ads as evidence of an elaborate Kremlin conspiracy to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.

This paranoia, stoked by incessant corporate media coverage, has intentionally distracted from the fact that the U.S. government has a very long and very bloody history of destabilizing and overthrowing foreign governments that challenge its economic interests.

U.S. efforts at international sabotage continue to this day. In fact, former CIA directors are even joking about it.

James Woolsey, a hardline neoconservative who led the CIA in the 1990s, insisted in an interview on Fox News that when the U.S. meddles in foreign countries' politics, it is "only for a very good cause."

LAURA INGRAHAM: Have we ever tried to meddle in other countries' elections?

JAMES WOOLSEY: Oh probably, but it was for the good of the system, in order to avoid the communists from taking over. For example, in Europe in '47, '48, '49, the Greeks and the Italians, we CIA ...

LAURA INGRAHAM: We don't do that now, though? We don't mess around in other people's elections, Jim?

JAMES WOOLSEY: Well... Only for a very good cause.

LAURA INGRAHAM: Can you do that, do a Vine video as former CIA director? I love it.

JAMES WOOLSEY: Only for a very good cause in the interest of democracy.

LAURA INGRAHAM: Thanks for being here. Always great to see you.

BEN NORTON: While the former head of the CIA may find this funny, Woolsey and Fox News host Laura Ingraham are laughing about U.S. policies that led to the deaths of millions of people.

For many decades, the U.S. has trained and armed fascist death squads and propped up murderous far-right dictatorships.

The most infamous examples of U.S. foreign meddling are the many military coups the CIA orchestrated and supported in order to topple left-wing foreign governments.

In 1953, the CIA helped carry out a coup to overthrew Iran’s democratically elected government on behalf of oil corporations. The next year, the U.S. toppled Guatemala’s democratically elected government on behalf of rich land owners and food corporations. Both countries’ elected left-wing leaders were replaced with brutal, authoritarian right-wing dictators.

When voters in Chile elected Marxist Salvador Allende as president in 1970, the U.S. poured billions of dollars into right-wing opposition groups and media outlets to try to unseat him. When that failed, in 1973, the CIA backed a military coup that violently toppled Chile’s democratically elected socialist government, and replaced it with Augusto Pinochet, a hyper-repressive far-right despot who killed, tortured, and disappeared tens of thousands of leftists. The capitalist dictator Pinochet drowned his political opposition in blood, always with the staunch support of the U.S. government.

Former CIA Director Woolsey insisted the United States had to pursue these bloody policies in order to support democracy. But history shows the opposite to be true: the United States frequently subverted and destroyed democracy expressly in order to defend capitalism.

Even the examples Woolsey cited in his Fox News interview demonstrate this.

JAMES WOOLSEY: It was for the good of the system, in order to avoid the communists from taking over. For example, in Europe in '47, '48, '49, the Greeks and the Italians.

BEN NORTON: In Italy, the U.S. “invested large sums in economic and military assistance” to weaken the Communist Party and prevent it from winning the 1948 election. Communists had led the militant resistance against the Fascist regime before and during World War II, and were so popular after the war that, had the U.S. not sabotaged the election, it is likely the communists would have won.

In Greece, the U.S. and its partner the United Kingdom supported right-wing monarchist forces, some of whom had collaborated with fascists, to fight against the communist partisans who had bravely resisted fascism. This eventually led to an authoritarian far-right military junta, which also enjoyed support from the U.S.

Even the New York Times has come to acknowledge this violent history of U.S. foreign meddling. A report noted “Russia’s 2016 operation was simply the cyber-age version of standard United States practice for decades.”

Although the newspaper of record added, “The United States’ departure from democratic ideals sometimes went much further.”

The former chief of CIA operations in Russia told the New York Times that the U.S. “absolutely” has rigged foreign elections, and he added, “I hope we keep doing it.”

Reporting for The Real News, I'm Ben Norton.


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