This quote seems to be true when examining an article published in the Institute for Historical Review. The feature of an in-depth article written by former CIA executive assistant to the deputy director, Victor Marchetti titled, Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History reveals disturbing information about the CIA (2).
Written as firsthand knowledge, Marchetti’s credentials include, 1955 specialist on USSR, “a leading CIA expert on Third World aid, with a focus on USSR military supplies to Cuba.”
He resigned in 1969, “After becoming disillusioned with the CIA’s policies and practices.” He authored two books on the CIA, The Rope Dancer (1971) and The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence written with John D Marks (1973).
Historical Revisionism and the Cuban Missile Crisis
In the article, Marchetti explores many of topics discussed in his books, especially the CIA’s penchant for historical revisionism. In the first example, Marchetti divulges that that the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t unfold the way it was later told. He states, “They [CIA and USSR] were rewriting history to suit the present purposes of their governments.”
The revised version of the Cuban Missile Crisis was co-authored by McNamara, Gromyko and others. Marchetti discusses how once the fictionalized version was seeded that journalists he refers to as “the ‘knowledgeable’ syndicated columnists” quickly began reporting that version of the truth.
The concocted story soon became historical fact. That twisting of the truth put the US government in a position of ignorance with the US intelligence community having no clue what was really going on during the Cuban missile crisis.
Marchetti claims that this was a lie and was the result of the CIA and US military cooperating and coordinating. He states that he was very deeply involved with the event along with his assistant. He comments that the two of them were “the original “crate-ologists’.”
This term defines the intelligence art the two of them developed to determine the contents of specific “Soviet merchant ships”. He admits their methodology was low-tech – many times they simply used a ruler to measure crate sizes in aerial photos. They also knew where the ships were and what ports they were in, such as Cuba, Indonesia, etc.
He writes, “We could tell if a crate contained a MIG-21or an IL-28, or a SAM-2 missile.” He also describes how the US tracked these ships and knew where they were at all times.
These and other techniques were used to determine, “…in the summer of 1962, that the Soviets were carrying out an unprecedented arms build-up in Cuba.”
CIA Aware of Cuba Build-up
Marchetti writes that US flyovers confirmed the Soviets were in fact, “building SAM (Surface-to-Air Missiles) launching sites to protect the build-up.” In addition, the Soviets also had launch sites built for “Soviet MRBMs (Medium Range Ballistic Missiles).” These missiles had the capacity to target “most cities in the United States” with nuclear warheads.
Marchetti is very specific, stating that they [CIA] knew the exact number of missiles, where the missiles were aimed and that the warheads hadn’t arrived, meaning the missiles weren’t yet armed.
He states, “Thus McNamara is lying when he claims that the Soviet missiles in Cuba were armed and ready for launch against the United States.”
The icing on the cake is his description that President Kennedy ordered the US Navy to board a Romanian ship, knowing there were no warheads on the vessel. This action was enough to send the Soviet ships that were carrying the warheads to Cuba to turn around and go back to the Soviet Union.
He gives other details that conflict with the now widely accepted stories. To show how the US knew what was happening in Cuba, Marchetti describes how the Soviet troops were ineptly disguised as tourists disembarking from ocean liners. The giveaway was the sports shirts the men wore – the Soviets only had access to two types of sports shirts.
He concludes that the final lie in the fabricated history of the Cuban Missile Crisis was that the Soviets were in Cuba strictly to protect the people of Cuba. The truth surrounding the crisis, he claims is that Khrushchev had 48 missiles aimed at all major cities in the US save Seattle, Washington.
The only problem that the Soviets had in implementing the attack was the missing warheads that were now heading back to the USSR.
Marchetti states that the US never stood on the brink of war as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He points out that with unarmed missiles, Khrushchev had no recourse but to bow to President Kennedy’s order to remove all of the missiles in Cuba.
The CIA’s Art of Secrecy
The explanation of how the CIA uses and capitalizes on the art of secrecy is a large part of Marchetti’s big reveal. He explains that CIA secrecy is in place to prevent the enemies of the US from knowing what the government and the CIA is doing is a lie.
He points out the secrecy is designed to keep Americans in the dark since US enemies know what the CIA is doing. Marchetti states that the real CIA enemy is Americans. He writes that if Americans knew the truth, they would demand accountability and might even declare that the CIA operations be stopped or at the very least investigated and reformed.
According to Marchetti, the CIA is the secret weapon of the US President that comes with the golden plausible deniability since the CIA operates under the cloak of secrecy.
Marchetti claims that the secrecy is also used to cover-up botched operations. All of this allows “the CIA to tell the public whatever it wishes.” It can write history however it desires.
He explains that the CIA is also at the beck and call of the President (3). The secrecy therefore protects whoever is President and no one, not even Congress, knows how, where or when POTUS uses this arm of secret power.
Marchetti writes, “I had come to the conclusion, as a member of the CIA, that many of our policies and practices were not in the best interests of the United States, but were in fact counterproductive, and that if the American people were aware of this they would not tolerate it.”
CIA Censors Marchetti’s Book
Marchetti resigned from the CIA in 1969. When word got out about his book, “Admiral Taylor told me the CIA was worried about what I might write in my book.”
Marchetti states the Admiral said he could write the book, but couldn’t give any more interviews or write any more articles. He was also to “stay away from Capitol Hill”.
Before Marchetti’s book could be published, the Admiral and “other retired senior officers” would “look over it” and he’d then be advised as would the CIA.
Marchetti writes that then President Nixon didn’t want his book published out of fear of embarrassment. He writes, “I was to be the first writer in American history to be served with an official censorship order served by a court of the United States…”
There were 399 passages that the CIA demanded Marchetti remove from his book. He fought against the censorship and in the end, only 168 passages were deleted. It was the first book that the “US federal government ever tried to censor before publication through court action.”
In a defiant move, Alfred A. Knopf (publisher) used blanks where the censored passages were made. A boldface type was used to indicate the passages that the CIA challenged but weren’t censored.
These are a few of the many stories Marchetti describes how historical revisionism has altered the facts about what really occurred in many world events, during his time with the CIA and beyond.
References & Image Credits:
(1) Brainy Quote
(3) TSW: How Truman Predicted Problems the CIA Would Cause America in the Future
(4) Images from Cuban Missile Crisis