Before Congressional exposure and curtailment of CIA operations into the domestic affairs of foreign countries, in the form of the Church Committee hearings in 1975, the Agency in the Eisenhower and Kennedy eras specialized in engineering and/or directing coups that toppled Soviet-friendly governments.
With a mere radio station, the CIA was able to topple Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, and with directed and trained troops rid the country of Muhammad Mossadegh in Iran; both of these figures were seeking or had established relations with the Soviet Union.
With a few cables, the Kennedy administration green-lit a coup of Vietnamese military officials to remove South Vietnamese president Ngo Diem from power (it was successful and resulted in Diem’s murder by his captors) out of administration fears that the leader was conducting back-channel negotiations with the Communist North.
All of these operations were predicated on plausible deniability of presidents and Agency refusals to go public with these operations.
Today, there is nothing private about how former CIA Director John Brennan is taking the “regime change” term frequently applied by liberals to Republican presidential administrations to a new level.
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Brennan implied that Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, would be required to institute the type of government-toppling operation directed by the Agency at foreign countries against Trump should the president fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigator tasked with determining if there was campaign collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Brennan, who served as CIA Director in the Obama administration, said of such an action:
“I think it’s the obligation of some executive branch officials to refuse to carry that out. I would just hope that this is not going to be a partisan issue. That Republicans, Democrats are going to see that the future of this government is at stake and something needs to be done for the good of the future.”
This view was backed up by another Obama appointee, former Director of Naval Intelligence James Clapper, who has stated that his Cold War service gives him immediate suspicions of Russia no matter what form of government it takes:
“I’m an old school, Cold War warrior and all that – so I have, there’s truth in advertising, great suspicions about the Russians and what they do. A lot of this to me had kind of the standard textbook tradecraft long deployed by Russians. It would have been a really good idea maybe to have vetted whoever they were meeting with.”
Both were outraged when Trump likened the CIA to “Nazi Germany,” and Clapper contacted Trump informing the then-President-elect that he “couldn’t let that reference pass,” and that it insulted the intelligence community as a whole:
“That was a terrible, insulting affront, not just to me or John, we get paid the big bucks, but I’m talking about the rank and file, men and women, patriots and intelligence community — that was completely inappropriate and over the top.”
Once upon a time, it was the Old Left, New Left, and whatever moniker the Left calls itself today that solely castigated the American intelligence community as “Hitlerite.” Uber-leftist and CIA basher Oliver Stone called this community a “fascist security state,” for one prominent example. And the CIA refused to answer questions from Congress about the Agency’s role in toppling overseas governments.
But now the sides have flipped, and today presidents use the fascist terminology of the Left to attack American intelligence, while former CIA officials are publicly urging U.S. government officials to consider employing the kind of operations the Agency formerly used in private against enemy governments.