Is American foreign policy so foreign to our values that those who have served at the very pinnacle of the national intelligence agencies have trouble telling the truth?
“Have we ever tried to meddle in other countries’ elections?” Laura Ingraham, host of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, asked James Woolsey, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1993 to 1995, during President Clinton’s first term.
“Oh, probably,” Mr. Woolsey replied. “But, uh, it was for the good of the system, in order to avoid communists from taking over. For example, in Europe in ’47-’48-’49, the Greeks and the Italians, we, the CIA—”
“We don’t do that now, though?” Ingraham interjected. “We don’t mess around in other people’s elections, Jim?”
“Well . . . urrrrr, yum, yum, yum, um, um, um” the old spymaster mouthed to laughter from both Ingraham and her studio cameramen.
“Only for a very good cause,” he added with a sly grin, “and the interests of democracy.”
Interests. Of. Democracy.
I think I hear my cameraman laughing.
Foreign Policy magazine tells us that documents declassified in 2017 “shed light on the Central Intelligence Agency’s central role in the 1953 coup that brought down [elected] Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh, fueling a surge of nationalism which culminated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and poisoning U.S.-Iran relations into the 21st century.”
It was hardly an aberration. The following year, the CIA covertly bombed Guatemala City and deposed that country’s elected president. In the 1964 Chile election, declassified documents show the U.S. gave “large sums” of money to the winning candidate. The CIA admits to planting both true and false stories into Nicaraguan newspapers in 1990.
“We’ve been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947,” explained Loch Johnson, dubbed the dean of American intelligence scholars. “We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners — you name it. We’ve planted false information in foreign newspapers. We’ve used what the British call ‘King George’s cavalry’: suitcases of cash.”
The U.S. government could not stop itself from interfering in the 1996 Russian election on behalf of then-President Boris Yeltsin. The New York Times carried an illuminating exchange regarding the thinking, or lack thereof, behind our meddling: “Thomas Carothers, a scholar at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace, recalls arguing with a State Department official who told him at the time, ‘Yeltsin is democracy in Russia,’ to which Mr. Carothers said he replied, ‘That’s not what democracy means.’”
Need more? Dov Levin, a Post Doctoral Fellow at Carnegie-Mellon University’s Institute for Politics and Strategy, has compiled a handy database that lists undemocratic and illegal shenanigans going on and on through the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, up through President Obama to today.
Just how high and low does this go? Well, American Spectator credits WorldNetDaily’s Jerome Corsi with documenting that Barack Obama got in on the game early. Yes, even before he was president, “Obama, as a U.S. Senator, illegally used a taxpayer-financed trip to campaign for far-left presidential candidate Raila Odinga in Kenya’s 2006 elections.”
“By 2010,” according to the Spectator story, “this tribal connection resulted in President Obama quietly transferring millions of U.S. tax dollars to Odinga’s government, including $2 million to convince Kenyan voters to vote for a new constitution.”
This time last year, Judicial Watch was finally able to obtain documents in a lawsuit, which showed that since 2012 “the U.S. government has quietly spent millions of taxpayer dollars to destabilize the democratically elected, center-right government in Macedonia by colluding with leftwing, billionaire philanthropist George Soros.”
The New York Times disclosed that U.S. money and influence has been used to alter elections in both Iraq and Afghanistan. When considering the animosity former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has expressed toward the U.S., remember that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in his memoir, described the U.S. attempt to defeat Karzai as “our clumsy and failed putsch.”
Defenders of U.S. overt and covert election-related activities in other countries claim that U.S. interventions have “generally been aimed at . . . promoting democracy.” So, why can’t the former CIA director address this policy with a straight face?
Well, “generally” being pro-democracy — except when overthrowing democratically elected officials to install authoritarian regimes — is hardly a robust defense. Plus, Woolsey may not want to embrace such rank hypocrisy on national television. Moreover, what the CIA, State Department and other federal government appendages have done and are doing to interfere in the elections of other nations is not merely unseemly, it is also against the law.
“Meddling in other’s elections is a violation of international law,” Steve Baldwin wrote recently in The American Spectator. “More importantly, U.S. law prohibits the use of tax dollars to influence foreign elections.”
In an article last December, the New York Times noted the obvious and ongoing media fail of which they are a large part: “This broader history of election meddling has largely been missing from the flood of reporting on the Russian intervention . . .”
As American citizens we have every right to complain about Russian government interference in our elections, but our own government’s interference in other nation’s elections, including Russia’s, undermines our moral high ground.
To say the least.