The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), sometimes also known as OGA (Other Government Agency), The Company, and The Agency, was created by Congress when President Harry S Truman signed it into law. It is headquartered in Langley in McLean, Unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, U.S. The main function of the CIA is to gather information about foreign governments, organizations, and individuals followed by feeding this information to the public policymakers for utilization. The CIA has the reputation of being the most influential and far-reaching intelligence agency in the world and known for its legendary James-Bond-like actions. The functions of the CIA include information collection but do not exclude secret actions when and where needed. Although the CIA has conducted many operations successfully to achieve its objectives, but everything has not been always a success story. At times it had pocket failures too. A suicide attack at a CIA base in the province of Khost, Afghanistan on December 30, 2009, killed seven CIA officers leaving six others seriously wounded. The CIA was seriously criticized for its inability to help abort the 9/11 attack proactively, but these claims were denied by the agency citing its efforts made in the preceding two years. The CIA continues to influence foreign governments by exerting political pressure.
1. Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip was a CIA program to recruit German scientists with an intention to brainwash them and prepare them to serve in the U.S. In 1945, the U.S. President Harry Truman ordered the execution of the plan on condition to exclude those found ‘to have been a member of the Nazi Party’¦’ This would have excluded almost all of the German scientists. Therefore, the CIA white washed the public profiles of the German scientists and tailored their biographies to serve their purpose. About 1600 scientists legally migrated to the U.S. These scientists played an undeniable role in the realization of the U.S.’s ballistic missile technology and space programs. The success of Operation Paperclip was, therefore, one of the most valuable services rendered by the CIA.
2. The Stargate Project
Military Intelligence and the CIA were of the opinion that the U.S. psychic research about some foreign countries was unreliable on account of possible Soviet disinformation. Both agencies, therefore, opined that research on exploring Remote Viewing should be conducted. Remote Viewing is the psychic ability to see the events happening at remote distances through the use of paranormal capabilities like the use of ESP (Extra-sensory Perception). Researchers, however, concluded that the telepaths were 80 percent of the time wrong. The information obtained through this method was not found scientifically reliable or strategically actionable; therefore, the CIA canceled the costly project forever in 1995.
3. The Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Bay of Pigs Invasion, also known as Operation Zapata, was undertaken soon after John F. Kennedy became the President of the United States. The purpose of the invasion was to overturn the Communist Castro regime and to replace it with some more acceptable alternative. To divert the attention from any U.S. involvement, Cuban exiles were trained for the operation. On April 17, 1961, an amphibious troop transport and 1300 guerrillas were unloaded on a beach in the Bay of Pigs. Contrary to the expectations of the CIA, the Castro troops were already well informed of the possibility of this attack and were fully ready to counter it. About 2,000 Cubans and more than 100 invaders were killed while 1200 were captured, and many of them were executed under the orders of Fidel Castro. The remaining were freed in exchange foe $53 million in the form of food and medicines for the Cuban people.
4. Operation Midnight Climax
Operation Midnight Climax was initiated by the CIA with an aim to explore the possibility of mind control through the use of drugs like LSD. The researchers wanted to study the effects of LSD on the involuntary users. Another intention was to find the possibility of using this drug for sexual blackmailing. Prostitutes were used by the CIA to administer the drug via food to the chosen subjects. After the CIA Inspector General’s staff discovered in 1963 that the agency was running a program involving use of the psychotropic drug LSD by unwilling people, the project became controversial even within the agency and was soon closed. The relevant files were destroyed while only a few of them survived.
5. Operation Phoenix
In 1964, the CIA fabricated an attack by North Vietnam on the Gulf of Tonkin providing sufficient reason for the U.S. to intervene in Vietnam. A program called Operation Phoenix was designed with the stated objective to neutralize the NLF (National Liberation Front of South Vietnam), and it utilized infiltration, capturing, terrorizing, assassinating, converting, or killing to meet its objectives. More than 80,000 suspects were neutralized by the Phoenix operatives, killing more than 25,000 Vietnamese, and leaving the others disabled due to extreme torture. According to an internal communication, the intent of Operation Phoenix was to attack the NLF with a rifle rather than a shotgun to target the Vietnamese political leaders, command and control elements of the NLF activists. Ed Murphy, a native of Staten Island, New York, was one of the first people to publicly criticize and condemn the murderous campaign.
6. Project Pigeon
Project Pigeon was one of the most absurd projects sponsored by the National Defense Research Committee contributing $25,000 to the project. The idea was to train the pigeons, equipped with a control system to guide the missiles to a target. The image of the target received through a lens was projected onto a screen which the pigeon could recognize. The project was headed by the American behaviorist B. F. Skinner. The project was a failure and completely abandoned in 1953 after the availability of the reliable and precise electronic guidance systems.
7. Operation Gold
Operation Gold was a combined hacking project of the CIA and the British intelligence agencies. The purpose of the operation was to intercept and tape telephonic communications of the Soviet headquarters in Berlin. A secret tunnel measuring 450 x 6 meters was built under the constantly patrolled border. It started from a purposely constructed basement in the Rudow district of the American Center. Construction of the tunnel started on September 2, 1954, and the work was completed on February 25, 1955. The KGB, however, got information about the tunnel through a secret agent and communicated only about unimportant routine matters. Although a few celebrated the success of this operation, many were skeptical about the usefulness of the operation.
8. Operation Gladio
Operation Gladio was a CIA sponsored secret, anti-Communist operation which started in the late 1960s and continued until the 1980s. Gladio was a sort of NATO army which remained a closely guarded secret throughout the Cold War era. The purpose of this secret force was to control any possible Communist insurgents. Allen Dulles was one of the key persons in implementing the anti-Communist policies of Gladio. It was later revealed that the Gladio activities were not restricted to political members of the Communist party only, but it was expanded to investigate, capture, and torture non-Allied, neutral, and innocent citizens of NATO-allied countries. The European Parliament passed a resolution condemning Gladio and requesting a full investigation on November 22, 1990.
9. Acoustic Kitty
The CIA was behind the Acoustic Kitty project launched by the Directorate of Science and Technology in the 1960s. The idea was to use trained cats equipped with electronic equipment for recording and spying in the Soviet embassies. The spy cat was equipped with a microphone in its ear, an antenna implanted in its tail, and batteries inserted in its forelimbs. The estimated cost of the project exceeded $20 million. The first test failed when the spy cat was run over by a taxi. Some other tests also did not yield any positive results. Therefore, the project was canceled in 1967.
10. Operation Mockingbird
American citizens have been assuming that their press enjoys complete freedom unlike many government-controlled media of the developing countries. How far is this American presumption true can be realized by recognizing the fact that they have the most sophisticated and influential, secret agency in the world, the CIA. A publisher of the Washington Post, Phillip Graham, was assigned to direct the Operation Mockingbird. The plan was conceived in the 1940s when the CIA started systematic access to the corporate media. The CIA intended to compete and nullify the influence of Communist activists over European labor unions. At its peak, Operation Mockingbird used about 3,000 CIA agents to control the press and as many as 25 newspapers were under its influence. The writers of some very prestigious magazines were also influenced by this program.
Apparently the stated and implied objectives of the CIA are in the U.S.’s interests, but practically they are debatable and are an embodiment of controversy. Whereas most of the U.S.’s citizens are impressed by the efficiency of the CIA, many others in the U.S. and other parts of the world are the least impressed by its activities. The CIA has won many sincere enemies for the U.S. but only a few and insincere friends for America. Actions speak louder than words, and perhaps everything is a little more pronounced in the case of the CIA.