In the 1950's, the repression of domestic political dissent reached near hysteria. In the process the CIA's covert operations, already in progress in Europe, expanded worldwide. By 1953, according to the 1970's Senate investigation, there were major covert programs under way in 48 countries, consisting of propaganda, paramilitary, and political action operations. In 1949, the agency's covert action department had about 300 employees and 47 stations. In the same period, the budget for these activities grew from $4.7 million to $82 million. In this paper I will discuss the United States' use of covert actions using Panama and Nicaragua as examples. I had planned on writing my paper on Manuel Noriega and his connections with the CIA but the more I read into him I found the major topic outlying him was much more interesting. So with that I will continue on with this paper showing my findings on the CIA and thier covert operations.
Covert operations have become a way of life and death for millions of people world wide who have lost their lives to these actions. By 1980, covert operations were costing billions of dollars. CIA Director William Casey was quoted as saying "covert actions were the keystone of U.S. policy in the Third World."(Agee, 2) Throughout the CIA's 45 years, one president after another has used covert operations to intervene secretly, and sometimes not so secretly , in the domestic affairs of other countries, presuming their affairs were ours. Almost always, money was spent for activities to prop up political forces considered friendly to U.S. interests, or to weaken and destroy those considered unfriendly or threatening.
The friends were easy to define, they were those who believed and acted like us, took orders and cooperated. Until the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, enemies were also readily recognized: the Soviet Union and its allies, with China having ambiguous status since the 1970's. But there were other countries the CIA took actions against who were not associated with the Soviets. Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Indonesia in 1958, Cuba in 1959, Ecuador in 1963, Brazil in 1964, Chile in 1970, Nicaragua in 1979 and Grenada in 1983 to name a few.(Agee, 2) These governments, and others attacked by the U.S., were left, nationalist, reform-minded, populist or uncooperative and U.S. hostility drove some of them to seek arms and other support from the Soviet Union. Usually, the CIA mounted covert operations to weaken and destroy the programs supporting communism by leading and advertising anti-Communist solidarity. The local elites, whose privileged position was also threatened by movements for social change, were the CIA's natural allies.(Agee, 3) For more in-depth examples, I will look at some covert operations in the 1980's.
Central America was a major focus of U.S. attention during the 1980's. Through CIA covert and semi-covert operations, the U.S. tried simultaneously to overthrow the government of Nicaragua and to destroy the movement for revolutionary reform in El Salvador. In Nicaragua the means were terrorism and destruction through a 10,000 man paramilitary force, along with a economic blockade, propaganda and diplomatic pressures.(Stiles, 346) About 1% of the population, some 35,000 people, died. In El Salvador, the CIA an U.S. military expanded local military and security forces, and with the use of death squads, the U.S backed forces killed over 70,000 people. Although they targeted trade unionists, student activists, human rights advocates and peasant organizers, the majority of the deaths were killed to instill terror. The CIA in El Salvador used demonstration elections as public relations exercises to cover their atrocities. The military controlled civilian government could then be renamed a "democracy".
In the 1980's, in both Nicaragua and El Salvador, the U.S. introduced a new way for...