The Central Intelligence Agency, long the shadowy figure in world affairs, it began in 1947 when President Truman signed The National Security Act into law. And since that time the agency has been responsible for numerous upheavals, overthrows and coups going back to the Korean War. But the actions of the CIA weren’t generally known, and events such as the 1951 overthrow of the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossaddegh in Iran in favor of reinstating the Shah, and numerous other activities throughout the 1950s and 1960s largely went unacknowledged as having the fingerprints of the CIA, at least to the American people.
It was only during the time of Watergate and the Nixon resignation that questions about other clandestine activities began to surface. At the time of this National Town Meeting, in November of 1974, the democratically elected Marxist government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by an extreme right-wing military junta, led by General Augusto Pinochet on November 11, 1973. Since Watergate was front-and-center, the coup was given news coverage, but not as a CIA operation, rather a clashing of political ideologies that appeared to be perfectly natural on the surface. But after the Nixon resignation, and the shockwaves that rippled throughout the government, our political system and our collective level of trust in anything with Washington attached, questions arose as to just how much the CIA had been involved in the coup, and what, if anything Congress was informed about.
This panel discussion, part of the regular series National Town Meeting, brought several figures; Senator James Abourezk of South Dakota, Tom Braden, a syndicated news columnist and Dr. Harold Ford, former official of the CIA to address the issue and to answer questions from the audience. The panel is candid, and holds very little back as far as the CIA involvement in world affairs.
Interesting, when you compare the current controversy over Russian hacking and intelligence reports. Who knows what and for how long did they know it. Sometimes the stories don’t change, just the names and the places.
Here is that episode of National Town Meeting from November 30, 1974 from NET-TV and National Public Radio.