The CIA as a Terrorist Organization
By Peter Meyer

This page is available in a Spanish translation by José Maria Martinez:
La CIA es una organización terrorista

In September 2001 President George W. Bush declared a "War on Terrorism" and vowed to destroy all terrorist organizations "with a global reach". For the good of both America and the rest of the world he should start with the largest international terrorist organization of them all — his own CIA.

The concept of "terrorism" is not clear and there is no generally agreed upon definition of the term.  It is, however, a tactic, a means to a particular end.  A tactic can always be used, and is always a possible course of action for some group or other. Once this is understood it is clear that it is ridiculous to declare a "War on Terrorism" — one cannot defeat a tactic. To declare a war on terrorism is to declare perpetual war (which, in fact, is the intention).

"Terrorism" is here taken to mean the practice of the deliberate inflicting (either directly or indirectly) of harm, injury, death and/or destruction upon a civilian target sufficient to cause horror, revulsion or despair among civilian populations and/or their political leaders, with the goal of causing those populations or political leaders to act in a way desired by the terrorists.

Terrorist action differs from military action in two respects:  (1) In military action the target is military (or provides direct support to the military), not civilian; in military action the military forces of some organization, usually (but not necessarily) a state, target the military forces (and supporting infrastructure) of an opposing organization, usually a state.  (2) In military action the aim is to destroy a particular military capability of the opposing side rather than to effect some political goal (though, of course, military action is usually conducted in support of some larger political strategy).

The distinction between terrorist and military action may not always be clear, for several reasons.

This is the excuse that Israel gives for its terrorism directed against the Palestinian people. When Palestinians detonate explosives strapped to their bodies in the streets of Tel Aviv filled with Israeli shoppers it is terrorism. When Israelis fire missiles from helicopter gunships into streets in Gaza filled with frightened Palestinians it is counter-terrorism. So if acts of reprisal against violence directed at civilians is "counter-terrorism" then acts of reprisal against those acts of reprisal is "counter-counter-terrorism". And if counter-terrorism is OK (a reply to acts of violence) then surely so is counter-counter-terrorism. The same excuse that the Israelis give for their terrorism could also be used to excuse the Palestinians.

That CIA was created just after the end of World War II (from an OSS riddled with Nazis) by an act of Congress (and Congress can eliminate it in the same way). Its official purpose is to function primarily as an intelligence-gathering organization (at least, that's what we are supposed to believe) but in fact it has always been something different from that.

The CIA is not now nor has it ever been a central intelligence agency. It is the covert action arm of the President's foreign policy advisers. In that capacity it overthrows or supports foreign governments while reporting "intelligence" justifying those activities. It shapes its intelligence, even in such critical areas as Soviet nuclear weapons capability, to support presidential policy. Disinformation is a large part of its covert action responsibility, and the American people are the primary target of its lies. —  Ralph McGehee, Deadly Deceits

The CIA has been a terrorist organization from its beginnings, when it included a large number of former Nazis — former members of the Gestapo and the Nazi military intelligence (such as Reinhard Gehlen). Unlike smaller terrorist organizations such as ETA the CIA does not normally engage in terrorism by sending its employees to plant bombs, etc.  Rather, it tends to act through intermediaries and agents, sometimes making use of U.S. military personnel.

That the CIA is a terrorist organization is clear from its record of terrorist activities (sometimes called "counterinsurgency" or "low intensity conflict").  Here are just a few examples:

Further examples could very easily be given (and may be found documented in the many books, magazine articles and web pages about the CIA). Much relevant information will be found in Ralph McGehee's CIA Support of Death Squads, which gives details about the CIA's terrorist activities in over forty countries.

It's not that the CIA is a rogue organization, out of control. The CIA implements the policies of the President of the United States. The CIA carries out unofficial U.S. government policy. That the CIA is a terrorist organization implies that the United States is a terrorist state. Considering the millions of deaths that the U.S. has caused and the enormous suffering that its international policies produce, its hypocrisy in condemning other countries as "terrorist states" would be ludicrous if it were not so tragic.

A copy of the Serendipity website is available on CD-ROM.  Details here.

The U.S.A. — a Terrorist State
Israel as a Terrorist State
The Meaning of the Kuta Bombing
The CIA Serendipity Home Page