The other side of the story

William M. LeoGrande, a professor of government at American University, writes about the disingenuous coverage of Russian interference in US elections that portray it as an outrageous violation of the sovereign rights of a nation, when the US has been doing it for so long and in much more overt ways. Such behavior was revealed a long time ago in former CIA agent Philip Agee’s book Inside the Company: CIA Diary (1975) that detailed the things he did in Latin America after he joined the CIA in 1957. Like so many things that the US ruling class finds distasteful, this knowledge tends to be repeatedly buried.

In his article, LeoGrande details case after case of US interference in other countries and compares what the Russian trolls are accused of doing pales to the things that the US has done.

The United States has been covertly interfering in other nations’ politics – including elections – for at least three-quarters of a century. It still does today. Latin America, the focus of my own research, has been a frequent target.

Rather then using Facebook and Twitter to create make-believe organizations, the CIA organized front groups. Rather than creating bots to spread fake news, the CIA bribed foreign journalists, financed foreign newspapers and set up false flag radio stations.

One of the very first covert actions by the CIA’s new operational wing, directed by Frank Wisner, was a concerted effort to prevent the Italian Communist Party from winning the 1948 election. Washington funneled several million dollars to the conservative, pro-American Christian Democrats.

Former CIA officer F. Mark Wyatt explained, “We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their expenses, their campaign expenses, for posters, for pamphlets, what have you.”

Wisner built a network of foreign journalists, newspapers and magazines known officially as the Propaganda Assets Inventory.

Now, the United States has become the target country, with our elections under attack. Facebook and Twitter are scrambling to control the proliferation of Russian bots and fake news. But I believe it is the polarization of American politics that has created an environment in which people believe the most fantastic lies demonizing their fellow Americans. This has made the U.S. vulnerable to the techniques of foreign manipulation that the U.S. so often inflicted on others.

It is yet another example of what CIA consultant Chalmers Johnson described as ‘blowback’, how actions that the US takes in other countries comes back to haunt it.

In an interview, Mehdi Hasan asks John Sipher, a former CIA spy who worked in Russia, isn’t it a bit rich for the US to criticize Russian intervention in US elections when the CIA has routinely intervened so many times in the elections of other countries and even overthrown their elected governments? Sipher’s reply? The US does it for good while the Russians are bad. Really. You should really see the clip to appreciate the absurdity of Sipher’s rationalizations and kudos to Hasan for asking questions that are almost never asked of US leaders.

But while Sipher is a former CIA operative and thus a trained propagandist, his attitude is common in the media. On the radio program The World on February 26, journalist Michael Idov is asked about US interference in Russian elections and while he grants that it happened in the past, he says that it was benign interference, even characterizing it as resulting from a “do-gooder” attitude that resulted in a “benevolent enthusiasm that America tends to have for freedom movements around the world” which however can be viewed by the rest of the world as “malevolent meddling”. Really. The interview with him occupies the first five minutes of the program.

I am sure that all the Chileans tortured and murdered by Pinochet and all the Iranians tortured and murdered by Reza Pahlavi, just for starters, are grateful for these acts of benevolence.


  1. lanir says

    That fairy tale story may have seemed true decades ago. But by the time we had Nixon scuttling the Vietnam peace efforts, Reagan and the Iran contra affair, Bush and the war he wanted so much he lied to everyone to make it happen and then couldn’t make it stop when he wanted, Obama’s peace prize, the enduring lunacy that is support for Israeli occupation, drone warfare that is magically not terrorism on it’s own because we’re doing it, the Kunduz war crime on an MSF hospital, the resounding silence from the Obama administration during the Arab Spring…

    Anyone who knows about all that and can preach that the US is always the good guy is a blatant liar and should be treated as such. Anyone who is unaware of the bulk of this is simply too ignorant of basics about the matter to pretend to have an informed opinion. That’s not even a very good list above, it’s just what I came up with off the top of my head with a few minutes thought. I don’t think of myself as terribly well informed on the topic either.

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