Thursday, April 16, 2009

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean people really aren't out to get you

One of the books I'm presently reading is Chief of Station, Congo: Fighting the Cold War in a Hot Zone by Larry Devlin. Devlin was the first CIA agent in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, arriving five days after the country's independence from Belgium and beginning of its descent into chaos, chaos that was not entirely of its own making.

I'm not inclined to be sympathetic to a CIA special operations agent but it's an interesting read about a fascinating time. His take on the events is exactly what you'd expect but his candor is impressive.

Not surprisingly for a CIA agent, Devlin didn't think much of then-Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba. He didn't see Lumumba as a communist but thought he was erratic and naive and thus made the country vulnerable to Soviet influence.

Devlin complained [Lumumba's] paranoia infected troops who saw spies everywhere.

But then later adds that he received several messages from Director [of the CIA Allen] Dulles advising us that policy-makers shared our view that that we should to remove Lumumba from power.

He quoted a memo from Dulles stating that CIA headquarters concluded that his removal must be an urgent and prime objective and that under existing conditions, this should be a high priority of covert action.

Devlin added that he and his colleagues were already monitoring parliament and encouraging and guiding the actions of various parliamentary opposition groups that we had penetrated. We were also using Jacques [an editor] to insert anti-Lumumba articles in the country's leading newspaper.

The author also pointed out that [a]round this time one of our agents told us that a group of anti-Lumumba leaders had prepared a plan to assassinate him but then went on to lament that Lumumba's rival, President Joseph Kasavubu, was reluctant to endorse it.

Bear in mind that all this was after the country's two richest provinces had already declared independence, at the behest of influential Belgian mining interests.

So if Lumumba, who was kidnapped, tortured and finally assassinated a few months later, was "paranoid," then perhaps it was with good reason.

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At 10:21 AM, Blogger blackstone said...

great article. keep up the good work.


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